22 Aug 18

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto less distracting than OEM infotainment systems

In-car infotainment systems are leading to unsafe levels of distraction for drivers, according to a new report.

The study found that complex tasks such as programming a destination into a satellite navigation system or sending a text can divert a driver’s eyes from the road for up to 48 seconds.

The research also revealed that Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto take less time to programme and therefore are safer than original in-vehicle equipment designed by car manufacturers.

This raises the issue that smartphone technology may actually be safer for drivers than in-car systems, despite the much reported risks of screen use when behind the wheel.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Utah carried out the study and found that both CarPlay and Android Auto were 24% (5 seconds) faster on average than original equipment when dialling a telephone number, and 31% (15 seconds) faster when entering a satnav address.

Why every second counts

Every second matters – drivers who divert their eyes from the road for more than two seconds double their risk of a collision, according to the AAA. It claims distracted driving is responsible for more than 390,000 injuries and 3,500 deaths every year.

Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said improvements to all infotainment systems are needed before any could be considered safe, but added that, "Google and Apple are proving that it is possible to reduce the level of demand in-vehicle infotainment technology places on drivers. Smartphone-based software has the potential to offer a simpler, more familiar design that is less confusing to drivers, and therefore less demanding."

Distraction leads to distruction

The researchers applied a scale to measure the visual (eyes-off-road) demand, cognitive (mental) demand, and the time it took drivers to perform a series of tasks using the three different systems.







Audio Entertainment



Android Auto

Very High


Very High




Very High






Very High


Very High


Very High


Marshall Doney, AAA's president and CEO, said, "Automakers are experts at building safer cars, but Google and Apple are more skilled at building safer vehicle infotainment technology.”

He called on the two industries to work together to improve the design, functionality and safety of in-car technologies.

Avoid complex tech functions when driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that high-demand functions, such as programming navigation and text messaging should be locked out when a vehicle is moving, to provide more safety.

The Auto Alliance, which represents the major OEMs in the US, challenged the AAA’s research methods.

“There continues to be no attempt to tie research results to actual crash risk and researchers do not fully – or accurately – simulate how drivers may actually use these systems out in the real world,” said a spokesman.

“We can all agree that hands on the wheel and eyes on the road continue to be critical to safe driving. Portable phones and navigation devices are everywhere, and consumers are using these devices in their vehicles. It’s important to discourage drivers from using portable electronics that are not appropriately paired with the vehicle because they were never designed to be used while driving.”

Premium brands have more distracting infotainment systems

The AAA has already compared the distraction levels of different OEM infotainment systems and found premium brands tended to generate very high levels of demand on drivers.


Overall Demand by Vehicle




Very High


Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT (2018)

Kia Sportage LX (2018)

Kia Optima LX (2018)

Ram 1500 Laramie (2018)

Volkswagen Jetta S (2017)

BMW 430i xDrive Convertible (2018)

Buick Enclave Leather (2017)

Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE (2017)

Mercedes-Benz C300 Limited (2017)

Nissan Rogue SV (2017)


A spokesman for Mercedes-Benz said, “We set the highest standards on driver distraction and continue to develop our systems in order to distract the customer as little as possible during driving, while also offering exactly the information the customer needs when they need it. With the new MBUX – as found on the latest A-Class - we have developed another milestone for this purpose.”

MBUX combines a voice recognition system so the driver can dictate commands, with a touchscreen on the centre console and touch-control buttons in the steering wheel to minimise driver distraction.


Authored by: Jonathan Manning