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Apple CarPlay, Android Auto aren't distracted driving saviors, study says

Roadshow logo Roadshow 3/20/2020 Sean Szymkowski
Dark mode? CarPlay's had it for years. Light mode is the new hotness here. Andrew Krok/Roadshow © Provided by Roadshow Dark mode? CarPlay's had it for years. Light mode is the new hotness here. Andrew Krok/Roadshow

When Apple CarPlay and Android Auto first started rolling out, initial evidence showed they held promise to reduce distracted driving. These systems funneled the most important features from our phones onto the infotainment screen, after all.

Yet, it looks like they're not as foolproof as once touted, following a new study from the UK's IAM Roadsmart, an independent road safety organization. The stark findings showed those using one of the smartphone mirroring systems in the car displayed reaction times slower than someone who'd used cannabis, and five times slower than someone driving with the legal limit of alcohol in their system.

a close up of a car: Dark mode? CarPlay's had it for years. Light mode is the new hotness here. © Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Dark mode? CarPlay's had it for years. Light mode is the new hotness here.

During the testing period, which involved 46 drivers, participants using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto took their eyes off the road for as long as 16 seconds to fiddle with the controls. The test also broke things up into just voice commands and just touchscreen controls. Voice command operation was slightly better, but IAM Roadsmart said both ways were still mighty distracting.

Checking out the changes in iOS 13's Apple CarPlay update

a close up of a car: iOS 13 marks the most thorough update to Apple CarPlay yet, revising the aesthetics while simultaneously adding new features.

iOS 13 marks the most thorough update to Apple CarPlay yet, revising the aesthetics while simultaneously adding new features.
© Provided by Roadshow

Drivers were, however, aware of the distraction and modified their driving. It resulted in drivers going slower, but in the end, it still left the driver unable to keep a safe and constant following distance between a car up ahead. Those who participated also had a hard time keeping the car centered in its lane while operating the systems, especially using touch control. And the study didn't have drivers carry out super difficult tasks. Instead, they were told to play a song on Spotify, or react to receiving a text message, make a phone call or navigate to a gas station.

Although these systems exist to try and make our lives easier behind the wheel, nothing will ever top your full attention while driving. So, keep focused on the task at hand because it's for the best.

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This was originally published on Roadshow.

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