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AAA: Infotainment Systems Distracting to Older Drivers

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July 30, 2019— New in-vehicle infotainment technology has the potential to increase comfort and extend mobility for older drivers, but first it has to stop distracting them.

On average, older drivers (ages 55-75) removed their eyes and attention from the road for more than eight seconds longer than younger drivers (ages 21-36) when performing simple tasks like programming navigation or tuning the radio using in-vehicle infotainment technology, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Researchers found that the technology created potentially unsafe distractions for all drivers, though this safety risk is more pronounced for older adults, who took longer (4.7-8.6 seconds) to complete tasks, experienced slower response times, and increased visual distractions. The complex design of the technology created increased visual and cognitive demand for older drivers. For example, some systems included multiple menus and voice command functions that significantly reduced older drivers’ ability to easily complete seemingly simple tasks.

By 2030, more than one in five drivers on the road will be over the age of 65. With seniors becoming the fastest growing demographic in the U.S., finding ways to design technology to improve their comfort and safety is critical and may hold the key to enhancing the safe use of this technology for all drivers.

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