Study: Using an in-car touch system while driving is even worse than texting

A new study of driver behavior shows that Apple’s CarPlay or Android Auto touchscreen has a greater negative impact on driving performance than texting, smoking marijuana or drinking alcohol close to the legal level,media reported. Commissioned by IAM RoadSmart, the UK’s largest road safety charity, the study involved 20 Carplay users and 20 Android Auto users tested in simulators and told them to drive three times on standard routes.

Study: Using an in-car touch system while driving is even worse than texting

The route is divided into three sections, including rear-end, unstable highway traffic and 8-shaped loop driving. In the first experiment, participants were required to drive without an infotainment system, the second was asked to perform music, radio, navigation, text, and phone call tasks using voice interaction, and the third was required to perform the same tasks using touch-screen control.

The researchers measured participants’ driving performance in four areas: maintaining speed, lane position, eye-gaze behavior and self-reported performance, and the driver’s response time to external non-driving stimuli.

Unsurprisingly, when using touch screens, drivers performed significantly less on all tests, especially the reaction time, which was about 53-57 percent worse, compared with a 12 percent increase in reaction time and a 21 percent increase in reaction time when smoking marijuana.

Even more surprisingly, the use of voice commands did not make things any better, in which case the driver’s response time increased by 30-36 percent, while the response time for texting while driving was only 35 percent. That said, performing a task with Siri seems as bad as texting.

Motorists find it difficult to maintain a constant speed and a constant distance or in a lane before following the car when using a touch screen. It is worth noting that when the touch function is used, the lane position deviates by about half a meter.

IAM RoadSmart hopes the study will lead the government to test which products are suitable for consumer cars. “We are now calling on industry and government to publicly test and approve such systems and develop consistent standards that can really help reduce driver distractions,” said Neil Greig, the company’s director of policy and research.