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AAA: Drivers Increasingly Distracted By Dashboard Technology

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - When most people think of distracted driving they think of smartphones, but a new study says there are other distractions in vehicles that can be just as bad.

The study done by AAA finds that technology built into the dashboards of many cars is taking drivers' eyes and attention off the road and their hands off the wheel for potentially dangerous periods of time.

In particular they point out that touch screen require "high levels of visual and mental demand." Researchers had two dozen volunteers test-drive 30 different vehicles on a residential road and the study found drivers were visually distracted for more than 40 seconds when programming the navigation system or sending a text message.

When driving at 25 mph, a driver can travel the length of four football fields during the time it could take to enter a destination in navigation. David Strayer, a professor at the University of Utah, said, "Some of the most advanced systems are really very difficult for the driver to use."

According to AAA, previous research shows that removing eyes from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk for a crash.

AAA president and CEO Marshall Doney said, "Automakers should aim to reduce distractions by designing systems that are no more visually or mentally demanding than listening to the radio."

Researchers found that most "infotainment" systems could easily be made safer by simply following federal recommendations such as locking out text messaging, social media and programming navigation while the car is moving.

AAA says they're sharing the results of their research with automakers, but they're also warning drivers that just because certain technology is available while driving doesn't mean it's safe to use when behind the wheel and they should act responsibly.

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