A new study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests that Android Auto may be a safer alternative to native infotainment systems. The conclusion was reached through a joint effort with the University of Utah and stems mostly from the fact that native systems are generally slower to operate. Conversely, systems such as Android Auto or Apple's CarPlay, are generally easier and faster which in turn, reduces the time a driver is distracted. For example, AAA discovered that calls could be arranged a full five seconds or 24-percent faster via Android Auto than native systems on average. The same rule applies to navigation, which the organization says is 31-percent faster to set up for a given trip when using non-native interfaces. That equates to around 15-seconds and, although users really shouldn't be driving or on a roadway while changing those settings, seconds count when traveling at or above one hundred feet per second.
However, as noted by AAA, its study is not ubiquitous or conclusive by any stretch of the imagination. While Google's in-vehicle solution, are generally less distracting and time-consuming to use, they aren't necessarily safe. The study considered the amount of both visual and mental demand placed on the driver and rated the systems on a scale from low to very high demand. None of the systems tested came anywhere near "low demand," suggesting that there's still quite a lot of work needing to be done. In fact, the above-mentioned difference is actually slight, depending on what aspect is being examined. For in-vehicle navigation, all of the systems measured ranked "very high" on the scale, with Google's system averaging around 33-seconds to complete the task. Both Android Auto and built-in systems ranked "very high" again for the amount of information displayed as text that drivers are faced with. The distraction related to calls or entertainment selection was ranked "moderate" for Android Auto, compared to "high" for native systems.
Ultimately, Android Auto was given an overall ranking of "moderate," while native in-vehicle systems were ranked at "very high. AAA's director of traffic safety and advocacy, Jake Nelson, points out that the conclusion isn't representative of all vehicle systems but indicates a problem that needs to be addressed. Nelson says that automakers and smartphone companies need to collaborate to reduce distracted driving. Of course, that's something that could be greatly improved with the advent of better voice-activated features, A.I., and other advanced features. In the meantime, drivers should do what they can to reduce the time they spend interacting with infotainment systems while on the road.