In-Car Media Systems Distract Most Drivers: Report

Dennis Faas's picture

A new report suggests that in-car tech systems intended to simplify the navigation of media and communications platforms may create more problems than they solve.

According to the report, which originated in the United Kingdom, more than seven in ten people find the systems distract them from driving.

The publisher of the report, the UK-based publication 'Which?,' says it asked 1,000 of its members to report on their in-car technology.

About one in four said they owned cars with advanced systems such as satellite navigation, touchscreen displays, and steering wheel-based control buttons.

Premium Cars Feature Less Distracting Systems

Of those members (241), 72 per cent said they had been distracted by such systems while driving. That level of response suggests modern in-car media and communications systems are not helping drivers.

Instead, they're hindering many people's ability to keep their focus on the highway ahead. (Source:

For an automotive industry that has increased sales in recent years partly because of these newer systems, the report could have serious consequences.

In order to find out more about driver distraction and in-car tech systems, 'Which?' tested several cars containing these advanced media and communications control systems.

The findings were easily anticipated: premium vehicles built by BMW and Mercedes had in-car tech systems that were easier to figure out and use; similar systems in standard cars from Ford and Peugeot were harder to use, and thus more likely to distract.

Industry-Wide Guidelines Needed

'Which?' also found that in-car tech systems varied widely from vehicle to vehicle, increasing the likelihood that a driver switching between various vehicles could become distracted.

In the end, 'Which?' says it wants to see more regulation of these systems. Industry-wide standards could make it easier for any driver to navigate radio, navigation, and hands-free communications platforms, especially if driving a variety of vehicles.

Summarizing the report's findings, 'Which?' editor Richard Headland wrote: "We know people want systems in their car that integrate audio, phone, sat nav and other functions, but we want strong guidelines to focus carmakers on creating less distracting systems." (Source:

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