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TOAD TALKS: Surprise surprise – TVs in cars are bad…

With the news that a study has found in-car infotainment systems distract drivers, Visordown wonders why it took this long…

THE news we covered yesterday showed that in-car infotainment systems are as detrimental to a driver’s reaction times as cannabis and alcohol.

The news should really come as no surprise to anyone, putting a TV screen in front of anyone will distract them, it’s quite simple when you think about it really.

Humans have existed on earth for an estimated 200,000 years. The TV has been in widespread use for about 100-years. It’s a fairly simple equation – or search on Google – that tells us that the human brain has only experienced the pleasure of the moving picture for 1/20th of its total existence on the planet.

So, it’s still new, we are still drawn to the flickering screen and even Loose Women can be enough to attract our gaze away from what we should actually be doing. So the news that fitting TV screens in cars, that respond to a driver’s touch and voice, are distracting isn’t massively surprising to me.

I’d go as far as saying, I have no idea how those that make legislation around such things allowed the motor manufacturers to go ahead and start fitting them into vehicles.

The study, published by IAM RoadSmart, also highlights some other headline-grabbing stats. The most shocking of these was that using the touchscreen on a car's infotainment system was as bad as smoking cannabis or drinking the legal limit of alcohol. Now, shocking as they are – I take them both with a pinch of salt. The legal limit for alcohol in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. Because that measurement differs greatly for people of different sizes and weights, a larger driver would feel the effect less and therefore be less distracted. It’s a fairly easy stat to manipulate and turn it into the headline that you need.

The most shocking stat which honestly scares me more than any is regarding how long driver took their eyes off the road for and how long they felt they had been distracted. The study found that drivers took their eyes off the road for as long as 16 seconds while driving (equivalent to a distance of more than 500 metres at 70 mph). The results were worse than that of a driver that was texting at the wheel.

It sounds shocking but actually, when you think about it, it sort of makes sense. Looking at your phone while driving is illegal, and anyone doing it is going to be keeping their wits about them as they keep an eye out for Mr Plod as they try and avoid a fine and three points. Adjusting your climate control or turning your heated seat and back massager on isn’t. So, drivers are obviously not going to keep as closer eye on the road when they do it. Why would they, Elon Musk has placed a 28” touchscreen in their car so they’re allowed, right? People on the UK roads are probably getting regularly wiped out by drivers who assume that keeping comfortable is more important than another road user’s safety. It makes you angry, doesn’t it?

Do you think car infotainment has gone too far? Let us know in the comments below.

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