The research from the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety says drivers using in-vehicle technologies, like voice-based and touch screen features, were visually and mentally distracted for more than 40 seconds when completing tasks like programming navigation or sending a text message.
Removing eyes from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk for a crash, according to previous research.
With one in three U.S. adults using infotainment systems while driving, AAA cautions that using these technologies while behind the wheel can have dangerous consequences.
Researchers from the University of Utah were asked to examine the visual (eyes off road) and cognitive (mental) demand as well as the time it took drivers to complete a task using the infotainment systems in 30 new 2017 vehicles.
Study participants were required to use voice command, touch screen and other interactive technologies to make a call, send a text message, tune the radio or program navigation, all while driving down the road.
The research showed programming navigation was the most distracting task, taking an average of 40 seconds for drivers to complete.
"When driving at 25 mph (40 KPH) a driver can travel the length of four football fields during the time it could take to enter a destination in navigation—all while distracted from the important task of driving. Programming navigation while driving was available in 12 of the 30 vehicle systems tested".
This report from CBS News on the AAA research shows how drivers fared in the tests.
AAA says it conducted this new research to help automakers and system designers improve the functionality of new infotainment systems and the demand they place on drivers.
"Some in-vehicle technology can create unsafe situations for drivers on the road by increasing the time they spend with their eyes and attention off the road and hands off the wheel," said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "When an in-vehicle technology is not properly designed, simple tasks for drivers can become complicated and require more effort from drivers to complete."
None of the 30 vehicle infotainment systems produced low demand, while 23 systems generated high or very high levels of demand on drivers: