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AAA: CarPlay, Android Auto less distracting than built-in tech

by Justin King

CarPlay and Android Auto were much faster than native systems when making a call or programming navigation.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are much less distracting to drivers than average built-in infotainment systems designed by automakers, according to an AAA study.

The group measured the time required to perform basic functions, finding that CarPlay and Android Auto were 24 percent faster (5 seconds) when making a call and 31 percent faster (15 seconds) when programming navigation.

AAA also created a rating scale to measure the visual demand and cognitive demand alongside time. Low demand equates to listening to the radio or an audiobook, while "very high" is likened to balancing a checkbook while driving.

Despite the superiority of Apple and Google's interfaces, the AAA found all navigation systems to pose "very high" demand. CarPlay inched ahead slightly with a "high" demand during texting.

"While improvements are necessary before any of the systems can be considered safe to use while driving, this research shows that smartphone-based software has the potential to offer a simpler, more familiar design that is less confusing to drivers, and therefore less demanding," said AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety director David Yang.

Notably, there were no vehicles that scored a "low" overall demand. The only models in the "moderate" category include the Chevrolet Silverado, Kia Sportage, Kia Optima and Ram 1500. The Volkswagen Jetta was deemed "high." Curiously, the "very high" demand bracket was dominated by luxury vehicles including the BMW 430i, Buick Enclave, Land Rover Range Rover Sport and Mercedes-Benz C300.

"Automakers are experts at building safer cars, but Google and Apple are more skilled at building safer vehicle infotainment technology," said AAA chief Marshall Doney. "By leveraging their strengths, the two industries must work together to significantly improve the design, functionality and safety of these technologies."