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New Car Tech Can Lead To Distracted Driving

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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) - When most people think of distracted driving, they think of people talking on their cell phones or texting behind the wheel.

However, a new AAA study found that technology built into new vehicles dashboards can also lead to dangerous distraction.

In the last couple of years, automakers have improved the so-called infortainment systems which feature large screens that help drivers do everything from adjust the radio to make calls.

Researchers had two dozen volunteers test 30 different vehicles on residential roads. They measured how much drivers had to look at the screen and think about what they were doing while making a call, sending a text, or using the stereo or navigation system.

Professor David Strayer from the University of Utah lead the research.

"Some of the most advanced systems are really very difficult for the driver to use," he said.

The study found drivers were visually distracted for more than 40 seconds when programming the navigation system or sending a text message. AAA says removing your eyes from the road for just two seconds can double the risk of a crash.

Ricardo Meijias, who took part in the research, said he nearly missed a stop sign while using a touch screen.

"The cars that used the screens and the touch pads were probably the ones that made me feel the most uncomfortable," he said.

Researchers found that systems that use voice commands also took the driver's attention off the road.

"What we found is much of that technology is just too distracting, it just took the drivers eyes of the road and their mind off the drive for far too long," said Strayer.

AAA is sharing the results of its study with automakers. Safety experts want car companies to change the infotainment systems so the most distracting features are locked when the vehicle is in motion. Some automakers already disengage certain infotainment features when the vehicle is moving.

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