Study: Surprise! Siri Makes Drivers Safer - Sort of...
Apple CarPlay, Android Auto Reduce Driver Distraction
DENVER (July 23, 2018) – Apple CarPlay and Google's Android Auto in-vehicle information systems are significantly less distracting to drivers than those built-in vehicle "infotainment" systems designed by automakers, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Why? Surprise, surprise: Technology companies are better at creating easy-to-use technology than carmakers.
Per AAA research, CarPlay and Android Auto were 24 percent (5 seconds) faster on average than the vehicle's native system when making a call and 31 percent (15 seconds) faster when programming navigation. The difference makes a difference: Drivers who take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds double their risk of a crash. Distracted driving is responsible for more than 390,000 injuries and 3,500 deaths every year.
"No infotainment system is safe to use while driving," said AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley. "But Apple and Google are proving that it's possible to reduce the level of demand that in-vehicle infotainment technology places on drivers. All told, this research shows that smartphone-based software can offer a simpler, more familiar design that's less confusing to drivers – and, so, less demanding."
Importantly, unlike carmaker-designed infotainment systems, the Apple and Google smartphone-based systems use cloud-based voice technology such as Siri and Google Assistant that adapt to a user's voice over time – resulting in faster system-response times and enhanced speech processing. Overall, researchers found that CarPlay and Android Auto did not differ significantly from one another in the level of overall demand.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety teamed with researchers from the University of Utah to evaluate five vehicles – 2017 and 2018 models – to determine the amount of visual and mental demand placed on drivers by CarPlay, Android Auto, and each vehicle's native infotainment system. A rating scale was used to measure the visual (eyes-off-road) demand, cognitive (mental) demand, and the time it took drivers to complete a task using the systems. The scale ranged from low to very high levels of demand. A low level of demand is about the same as listening to the radio, while very high demand is about the same as balancing a checkbook while driving. Both CarPlay and Android Auto generated an overall moderate level of demand, while the native vehicle systems created very high levels of demand for drivers.
Still, a word of caution: The use of any in-vehicle infotainment technology while driving is dangerous. Even while using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, drivers still took up to 33 seconds to complete a navigation task, compared to 48 seconds for native systems. At 25 MPH, drivers can travel the length of three football fields during this time.
"Here's the thing: Just because technology is available to use while you're driving, it doesn't make it safe to use – just the opposite," McKinley said. "We have a long road ahead of us when it comes to distracted driving, but I'm optimistic that smartphone companies and carmakers can collaborate to reduce the potential for distraction that technology places on drivers. The airline industry has never competed on safety, and neither should carmakers."
Expanding on research released in October 2017 , AAA also evaluated distraction levels caused by built-in (native) infotainment systems in 10 new 2017/2018 vehicles. Research found that none of the 10 vehicle infotainment systems produced low demand, while six systems generated high or very high levels of demand on drivers. The 2018 Chevy Silverado 1500 LT, Kia Sportage LX, Kia Optima LX, and Ram 1500 Laramie all produced moderate demand on drivers, while the 2018 BMW 430i xDrive Convertible, 2017 Buick Enclave, 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE, 2017 Mercedes-Benz C300 Limited, and 2017 Nissan Rogue SV (2017) all produced very high levels of demand.
The latest report is the sixth phase of distraction research from AAA's Center for Driving Safety and Technology, the nation's most prominent research organization on distracted-driving issues. View the full report here, and visit AAA.com/distraction to learn more.
About the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation's mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.
About AAA Colorado
More than 680,000 members strong, AAA Colorado is the state's greatest advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services - as well as member-exclusive savings. For more information, visit AAA.com.