Brian Bilek

Infotainment systems are often marketed as being distinctly safer to use than picking up a cellphone while you’re driving. But two studies released on Tuesday have shown that’s just not the case. A handful of in-vehicle systems, as well as Apple’s Siri, were tested for cognitive distraction, and the majority of systems were found to be incredibly distracting—more so than having a conversation on a handheld phone.
In one of the studies (PDF), the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Utah rated six infotainment systems from Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Toyota, Mercedes, and Hyundai (using the MyFordTouch, MyLink, Uconnect, Entune, COMAND, and Blue Link systems, respectively). Five of the cars were 2013 models, and one was a 2012 model.
Study participants drove six different cars on a seven- to nine-minute loop throughout a residential area in Salt Lake City. Participants were allowed to complete a test loop to familiarize themselves with the area, and they were given time to practice using each car’s infotainment system while parked until they were ready to begin the test. The participants were periodically instructed to “dial a 10-digit number, call a contact, change the radio station, or play a CD,” according to the paper. “All interactions took place using ‘hands-free’ voice systems which were activated with the touch of a button on the steering wheel.”
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