AAA: Hands-free Devices Are Especially Distracting For Older Drivers

July 25, 2019

Hands-free devices are especially distracting for older drivers, according to AAA.

Now that texting while driving is illegal in Florida, drivers are now more likely than ever to utilize voice-to-text or other in-vehicle infotainment systems. However, new research from AAA shows that this technology still creates potentially dangerous distractions for all drivers, but the risk is highest among older adults.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety partnered with researchers from the University of Utah to test the visual and cognitive demand created by the infotainment systems in six 2018 vehicles. Study participants in two age groups (21-36 and 55-75) were required to use voice commands, touch screens and other interactive technologies to make a call, send a text message, tune the radio, or program navigation, all while driving.

During the study, drivers used voice-based and touch screen in-vehicle technology features. Both older and younger drivers were visually and mentally distracted for 17 to 40 seconds when completing tasks like programming navigation or sending a text message. The distraction was more significant among older drivers (ages 55-75), who removed their eyes and attention from the road for more than eight seconds longer than younger drivers (ages 21-36).

“Regardless of their age, drivers should be very cautious when using in-vehicle infotainment systems,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Drivers may be lulled into a false sense of security that since they’re not using their handheld device, they are a more focused driver. AAA warns that many of these systems are so complex or poorly designed that they divert the driver’s attention away from where it should be – the road.”

By 2030, more than one in five drivers on the road will be over the age of 65. With seniors becoming the fastest growing demographic in the U.S., finding ways to design technology to improve their comfort and safety is critical and may hold the key to enhancing the safe use of this technology for all drivers, AAA said.


4 Responses to “AAA: Hands-free Devices Are Especially Distracting For Older Drivers”

  1. shaking my head on July 26th, 2019 10:45 am

    @Ponderosa It’s already in current policies. If you are the cause of an accident while doing anything illegal they will not pay your damages. That has always been in there

  2. Zuzka on July 25th, 2019 1:43 pm

    My 81 year old mother uses the hands-free phone while driving (she calls it “talking thru the dashboard”). Before, when she used to hold the phone and drive, it always made me very nervous, and I’d tell her to call me when she got home. Now, I feel like it’s not so bad because she’s not holding the phone… it’s like I’m sitting there in the car with her and she’s talking to me. She has both hands free and can drive just fine. She uses the voice commands to dial and everything. Thank God she doesn’t try to do anything else in her 2019 Camry with all the fancy shmancy big touch-screen stuff.

    As for me… I understand the phone/texting stuff is dangerous. However, the radio stuff is way too complicated while driving too! Between using touch-screen buttons for choosing different radio stations, then all the Sirrus stations, or switching to your Bluetooth radio… it’s all just way too much. I think it should lock when you’re moving. My car has it locked where I can’t do anything on my screen or make calls while I’m backing up. I think it should having something similar (optional) for radio settings while driving.

    It’s easy. Just make it a habit to pull over, or wait until you’re sitting still at a red light. It’s not worth a wreck to get just the right music picked out for your ride.

  3. Ponderosa hill on July 25th, 2019 8:35 am

    Here’s another idea but no new law. Insurance Companies ( auto insurance)
    insert in the policies that coverage will be cancelled if ticketed for using handheld
    communication devices while driving (hcdwd) .

  4. mike on July 25th, 2019 7:01 am

    here’s a law idea: phone off when inside vehicle. :)

    people can’t handle a phone in any sort of way while driving.

Have a comment on this story?

We welcome your comments on this story, but there are some rules to follow::

(1) Be Nice. No comments that slander another, no racism, no sexism, no personal attacks.

(2) No Harrassing Comments. If someone says something bad about you, don't respond. That's childish.

(3) No Libel. That's saying something is not true about someone. Don't do it.

(4) Keep it clean. Nothing vulgar, obscene or sexually related. No profanity or obvious substitutions. Period.

(5) reserves the right to remove any comments that violate our rules or we think to be inappropriate. We are not responsible for what is posted. Comments may not appear right away until they are approved by a moderator.

(6) Limit your comments to the subject in this story only, and limit comments to 300 words or less. Do not post copyrighted material. Comments will not be added to stories that are over 30 days old.

(7) No posts may advertise a commercial business or political group, or link to another commercial web site or political site of any kind.