AAA Study Shows Center Console Use Increases Distraction

Contrary To Popular Belief, Up And Coming Infotainment Systems Are Making Us Worse Drivers, Not Better

Bluetooth, music, navigation, voice commands — they've all become dangerous distractions for teen and adult drivers alike.

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Driving demands two levels of attention: vision and mental. Maintaining a high level of both attributes are required for driving safely on the road. Over the recent years, distracted driving has been an increasing problem thanks to cell phones and other interactive technology. The Department of Transportation ran the first ever national campaign against distracted driving in 2014 called, "U Drive. U Text. U Pay."

It is now 2018, and vehicle manufacturers are installing infotainment systems in the majority of their cars. These systems are capable of doing almost anything for you while driving on the road. Some popular features include:

  • Playing music and other media through Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
  • Voice-commands like calling, voice to text and Google search.
  • Touch-screen
  • Backup cameras
  • GPS

Range Rover Infotainment System Displaying AppsWikipedia

The functionalities provided by these systems allow for the user to surf the web, social media and even send a text message which are all things that should be done prior to or after getting behind the wheel. As more data became available and the issue grew direr, science experiments had to be done to truly understand the effect of our distractions.

The Ground-Breaking Experiment

A study done recently by AAA's Center for Driving Safety & Technology with researchers from the University of Utah ran a test that measured the amount of visual and mental demand completing tasks using the infotainment system as well as the time it took in 40 different 2017 and 2018 cars. As interactive technology continues to evolve and make our lives easier, so does the issue of driving distracted.

The participants of the study were put up to the task of using the voice command, touch screen and other technologies that required human attention to call, text, set up music or audio and program the navigation while driving.

The Results Don't Lie

Out of all the user tasks, the most distracting ended up being setting up the navigation, taking on average of 40 seconds for the drivers to complete. That's 40 seconds where anything can happen. Furthermore, out of the 40 vehicles that were tested, NONE of the infotainment systems resulted in "low" demand. In fact, 29 systems generated a high to very high demand while the leftover 11 finished with a moderate rating.

Turns out, the use of Apple Car Play and Android Auto systems are actually far less demanding than the pre-manufactured in-vehicle systems. The study is telling us that third-party apps are being designed to help combat the distractions but even then, it still isn't enough to produce low demand results.

So, What's Less Distracting? Native or Third-Party Systems?

Here's the statistical breakdown:

  • Third-Party apps were 24% (5 seconds) faster on average than Native systems.
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Systems made calling 31% (15 seconds) faster.
  • Driver's still took 33 seconds (third-party apps) to compared to 48 seconds (native) to complete the navigation task.
Vehicle reports with in-depth information from the study for each infotainment system are available here on the AAA website.

Study Report Summary of Distraction Levels for a Tesla Model S AAA's Center for Driving Safety & Technology

At the end of the day, AAA is recommending that vehicle manufacturers should aspire to create native infotainment systems that require a low amount of driver attention.

The New Standard and More Studies to Come

Societal pressures to develop safer, less attention-demanding infotainment systems in cars straight off the lot could change the future designs of many cars in the future. People will only become aware of this public safety issue if more tests like these are conducted and corporations raise awareness about distracted driving through national campaigns.

Organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a study that showed 3,450 deaths in the United States were caused by car accidents related to distracted driving. Out of that study, an interactive data visualization company worked with a personal injury lawyer in Fort Lauderdale to create an interactive map where users can see in real-time the fatalities spread out across the country since 2016. Distracted driving can be anything: texting, eating, drinking, smoking and even a passenger in the car or an outside object that caught your attention for a few seconds. Understanding the effect technology can have on us and how it transfers over to our driving is important to arrive alive every single day.

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​9 Must-Go Day Trips In Virginia

Virginia is for lovers -- and adventure!
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As the weather starts to warm up, all you want to do is be outside and enjoy the sunny Virginia days. There are so many things to do in this beautiful state, and these towns and attractions are perfect for day trips. From the gorgeous lakes to the big cities and everything in between, there is something for everyone! Pack your car up, grab your friends and get ready for adventure.

1. Smith Mountain Lake

This is Virginia’s most popular lake with over 500 miles of shoreline, a variety of water sports and lakefront real estate. Rent a paddle board or a boat with some of your friends for the day. It’s a guaranteed good time.

2. Arlington National Cemetery

This cemetery overlooks Washington, D.C., and is home to the grave of John F. Kennedy and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier memorial. After visiting the cemetery, you can drive to the 9-11 Memorial at the Pentagon or stop by the U.S. Marine Corp War Memorial.

3. Richmond

If you haven’t spent a day in Richmond yet, you’re missing out. While everyone knows Richmond has a lot of history (i.e. the Virginia State Capitol), it’s also known for its craft beer, food tours, shopping and arts. You can also go down the James River to picnic or go rafting.

4. Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens

Williamsburg has a lot to offer, ranging from the colonial aspects to give you an American Revolution experience to the screaming fun aspects of Busch Gardens. Whether you plan to visit spots frequented by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, or get a cliché taste of Germany on roller coasters, you’ll never be bored here!

5. Charlottesville

This city is filled with arts and culture that are grounded in rich tradition. Here you can visit Monticello, try amazing food all around town or listen to a variety of music at the Charlottesville Pavilion.

6. Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive

The Shenandoah Valley is right in the heart of Virginia. You can visit the park in October when the autumnal colors are most vibrant, in addition to taking a run down Skyline drive for amazing views. Along this path, you can stop at the summer home of President Hoover and the Old Cave Cemetery.

7. Virginia Beach

Whether you’re looking for the beach, various amusements or museums, this beach is a great destination for soaking up the sun and having a good time.

8. Assateague and Chincoteague Islands

Assateague and Chincoteague are partly located in Maryland and partly in Virginia. Here you can view the huge protected wildlife sanctuary, which is most notably known for its wild ponies. You can also go hiking, swimming, fishing or kayaking here - to name only a few.

9. Luray Caverns

These caverns are in Luray, Virginia, and were discovered in 1878. Inside you’ll find the “StalacpipeOrgan” – the world’s largest musical instrument.

No matter where you end up in Virginia, there are tons of great things to do. From great art to delicious food to rich history, this state has it all!

Cover Image Credit: The Foxfield Inn - Charlottesvilla, VA

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11 Necessities Every Girl Needs To Have In Her Car

These are the necessities.

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Most people spend a lot of time in their car getting from destination to destination. As well as doing a lot of things in one day. There are always things happening on a given day. So why not be prepared for any type of situation in order to not be caught in an uncomfortable situation.

1. Deodorant/perfume

I cannot stress this enough, in Florida especially, it gets so hot and sweating is a thing. Just to be able to reapply throughout the day is always a good thing. And to freshen up you can just give a quick spritz!

2. Pads/tampons

I mean this is pretty self-explanatory!

3. A bathing suit

It's Florida, there may be an impromptu beach day with friends that you didn't plan for. Or a pool day or a boat day. Better to be safe than sorry. Even in any other state you just never know, a lake day or going tubing in the river or going to the pool. It's always good to have one.

4. Pen/pencil

Being in college, sometimes you don't have one, it happens. But if you have one in your car then you're good to go if you commute to campus.

5. Pair of shoes.

If they break or get wet or any other worst-case scenario, then having a back-up is always good. you will be so thankful to have a pair in your trunk if you are nowhere near home or a store.

6. Phone charger

People are always using their phone, to text or listen to music and we all know that moment when our phone battery is at 10% and we don't have a charger. It's the most depressing thing.

7. A brush

You never know when you will need it, and if you are at the beach or the pool your hair will most likely get tangled and look crazy so being able to brush it out is actually a really great feeling.

8. Reusable water bottle

If you have a long day of classes or just a long day in general, you can go to a water fountain and fill up your bottle instead of spending 2-4 dollars on a bottle of water.

9. Earring backs.

Earring backs always fall out, I can't name the number of times that I have lost an earring because of it or had to take it out because the backing fell off. Having a little container or bag of them in your car could save your life, or putting them in your purse if you aren't going to be around your car.

10. Cash

It's always good to have a 20 or something in your glove box, because let's say you forget your wallet somewhere or lose it, at least you will have a little cash to be able to put gas, get food or any other thing you would need.

11. A sweater

Going to a restaurant, in class, at the doctor's, or at work, it's probably gonna be cold, and it's miserable when you are cold and probably won't get any warmer.

These are things that I have found to be useful to have in my car, these are suggestions for you too, change or alter as needed to fit your life better.

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