In its latest automotive safety report, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety measured the distraction times required for drivers to complete typical in-car infotainment tasks and the results showed Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s Carplay were significantly faster on average than car manufacturer’s native infotainment systems. The smartphone apps were 24 percent (five seconds) faster when making phone calls and 31 percent (15 seconds) faster programming navigation than standard car systems.
Even with faster performance than in-car systems, however, the smartphone apps were overly demanding. According to the AAA, drivers double their crash risk when they take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds. The group stated that distracted driving causes 3,500 deaths and 390,000 injuries annually.
AAA placed a positive spin on the CarPlay and Android Auto performance, however, even though the driver demand was still significant with the smartphone apps.
“Google and Apple are proving that it is possible to reduce the level of demand in-vehicle infotainment technology places on drivers,” David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said in a statement. “While improvements are necessary before any of the systems can be considered safe to use while driving, this research shows that smartphone-based software has the potential to offer a simpler, more familiar design that is less confusing to drivers, and therefore less demanding.”
The Foundation for Traffic Safety measured visual and mental demands on drivers completing typical infotainment tasks with five 2017 and 2018 vehicles. University of Utah researchers compared the demand on drivers with CarPlay, Android Auto, and the vehicles’ standard systems.
The researchers considered CarPlay and Android Auto roughly equivalent in visual demand, mental demand, and the time needed to complete infotainment tasks. Overall, the group rated the smartphone apps “moderately demanding” and the native systems “very highly demanding.”
AAA recommends that vehicle manufacturers and industry suppliers combine their efforts to develop infotainment technology with low driver demand levels.
“Automakers are experts at building safer cars, but Google and Apple are more skilled at building safer vehicle infotainment technology,” Marshall Doney, AAA president and CEO, said in a statement. “By leveraging their strengths, the two industries must work together to significantly improve the design, functionality, and safety of these technologies.”