AAA: Apple CarPlay is less distracting to drivers vs. built-in systems designed by automakers

Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto are less distracting to drivers when compared to built-in vehicle infotainment systems designed by automakers, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety,” Tamra Johnson reports for AAA.

“While many of today’s infotainment systems create potentially unsafe levels of distraction by allowing drivers to perform complex tasks like programming navigation or sending a text, CarPlay and Android Auto were 24 percent (5 seconds) faster on average than the vehicle’s native system when making a call and 31 percent (15 seconds) faster when programming navigation,” Johnson reports. “This difference is critical, as drivers who take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds double their risk of a crash. AAA is encouraged by these findings, as they indicate that popular infotainment systems can be designed in a way that is less distracting. Distracted driving is responsible for more than 390,000 injuries and 3,500 deaths every year.”

“The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety teamed with researchers from the University of Utah to evaluate five vehicles – 2017 and 2018 models – to determine the amount of visual and mental demand placed on drivers by CarPlay, Android Auto, and each vehicle’s native infotainment system,” Johnson reports. “While CarPlay and Android Auto can still create potentially unsafe levels of distraction and should not be used to perform complex tasks when behind the wheel, they decrease the demand placed on drivers compared to similar technologies offered by automakers.”

Source: AAA’s Center for Driving Safety and Technology
Source: AAA’s Center for Driving Safety and Technology

“Researchers found that CarPlay and Android Auto did not differ significantly from one another in the level of overall demand. A rating scale was used to measure the visual (eyes-off-road) demand, cognitive (mental) demand, and the time it took drivers to complete a task using the systems,” Johnson reports. “The scale ranged from low to very high levels of demand. A low level of demand equates to listening to the radio or an audiobook, while very high demand equates to an industry standard that produces demand similar to balancing a checkbook while driving. Both CarPlay and Android Auto-generated an overall moderate level of demand while the native vehicle systems created very high levels of demand for drivers. AAA recommends that industry strive to design in-vehicle technology systems that do not exceed a low level of demand.”

“AAA urges drivers not to use in-vehicle infotainment technology to perform non-driving related tasks when behind the wheel to avoid driving while distracted,” Johnson reports. “Even with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto requiring less overall demand and time to complete a task, drivers still took up to 33 seconds to complete a navigation task compared to 48 seconds for native systems. At 25 MPH, drivers can travel the length of three football fields during this time.”

MacDailyNews Take: Yet another reason why you want a vehicle that supports Apple’s CarPlay, the safest of the systems tested by AAA.

Apple opens up CarPlay to third-party mapping apps like Waze, Google Maps – June 5, 2018
Here are the cars that currently support Apple CarPlay – May 25, 2018


  1. When my navigation app of choice supports CarPlay I’ll be swapping out my infotainment system from my Chrysler minivan to something that supports CarPlay.

    The screen layout is truly horrendous. It’s overly complicated making you look too long at the screen to find the button you’re after. The navigation app is also way too busy with too much information on the screen. I’ve had the car nearly three years and I still don’t know where to look to see how far till the next turn. I can more easily follow the smaller screen on my iPhone X than that of the cars built in system.

  2. Just put in a new big screen Sony head unit into my wife’s ’03 Ford Explorer. Carplay is awesome. My one complaint is that Siri won’t admit that she doesn’t understand you, or can’t find a certain song. Instead she blithely plays something you don’t want to hear. None the less, made that 15 year old Explorer feel new again.

  3. Was going to put in a new unit that supports CarPlay. Ended up in an accident. Totaled truck. Bought something that supports CarPlay. I love it.
    I live in a state that passed a law starting July 1. No hand held phones period. $150 on day on tickets. They will make a killing. But I’ve been enjoying it very much. I think Apple Maps is great. You can rearrange the apps on your iPhone if you prefer. Siri never fails to understand my voice even with a windows down. Amazing.

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