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Published: Thursday, October 05, 2017 @ 3:50 AM
Updated: Thursday, October 05, 2017 @ 3:49 AM
WASHINGTON — The infotainment technology that automakers are cramming into the dashboard of new vehicles is making drivers take their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel for dangerously long periods of time, an AAA study says.
The study released Thursday is the latest by University of Utah professor David Strayer, who has been examining the impact of infotainment systems on safety for AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety since 2013. Past studies also identified problems, but Strayer said the "explosion of technology" has made things worse.
Automakers now include more options to allow drivers to use social media, email and text. The technology is also becoming more complicated to use. Cars used to have a few buttons and knobs. Some vehicles now have as many as 50 buttons on the steering wheel and dashboard that are multi-functional. There are touch screens, voice commands, writing pads, heads-up displays on windshields and mirrors and 3-D computer-generated images.
"It's adding more and more layers of complexity and information at drivers' fingertips without often considering whether it's a good idea to put it at their fingertips," Strayer said. That complexity increases the overall amount of time drivers spend trying to use the systems.
The auto industry says the new systems are better alternatives for drivers than mobile phones and navigation devices that were not designed to be used while driving.
The vehicle-integrated systems "are designed to be used in the driving environment and require driver attention that is comparable to tuning the radio or adjusting climate controls, which have always been considered baseline acceptable behaviors while driving," said Wade Newton, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
But Jake Nelson, AAA's director for traffic safety advocacy and research, said drivers took their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel while using infotainment systems in each of the 30 cars and light trucks, all 2017 models, that were tested in the study. The drivers used voice commands, touch screens and other interactive technologies to make calls, send texts, tune the radio or program navigation all while driving.
Clearly automakers haven't worked hard enough to make the systems quick and easy to use, Nelson said. Researchers rated 23 of the 30 vehicles "very high" or "high" in terms of the attention they demanded from drivers. Seven were rated "moderate." None required a low amount of attention to use.
Programming a destination into in-vehicle GPS navigation systems was the most distracting activity, taking drivers an average of 40 seconds to complete the task. At 25 mph (40 kph), a car can travel the length of four football fields during the time it takes to enter a destination. Previous research has shown that drivers who remove their eyes from the road for just two seconds double their risk for a crash.
Under pressure from the industry, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2012 issued voluntary safety guidelines to automakers for dashboard technology instead of enforceable safety standards. The guidelines recommend that automakers lock out the ability to program navigation systems while a car is moving. However, the ability to program navigation while driving was available in 12 vehicles in the study.
The guidelines also recommend automakers prevent drivers from texting while driving, but three-quarters of the vehicles tested permit drivers to text while the car is moving. Texting was the second-most distracting task performed by test drivers.
Drivers looked away from the road less when using voice commands, but that safety benefit was offset by the increased amount of time drivers spent interacting with the systems.
AAA said drivers should use infotainment technologies "only for legitimate emergencies or urgent, driving-related purposes." It also urged automakers to block the ability to program navigation systems or send texts while driving. Automakers should also design infotainment systems so that they require no more attention to use than listening to the radio or an audiobook, it said.
Nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults say they want the new technologies in their vehicles, but only 24 percent feel that the technology already works perfectly, according to an opinion survey conducted for AAA.
"Drivers want technology that is safe and easy to use," said Marshall Doney, AAA's president and CEO, "but many of the features added to infotainment systems today have resulted in overly complex and sometimes frustrating user experiences for drivers."
AAA distracted driving study http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/distracted-driving/?zip=20005&devicecd=PC&referer=www.aaa.com#.WdZAJf6GMdV
Published: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 11:06 AM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A high school cross-country team in upstate New York helped an elderly couple take out the trash Saturday -- lots of it.
Ann and Robert Dobson live in the Rochester suburb of Greece. For more than six years, garbage from a nearby shopping plaza has blown onto the Dobsons’ front yard, Rochester First reported
"Last summer when I cleaned up, I filled 240 gallon trash bags of litter just in the front yard," Robert Dobson told Rochester First.
"It never stops. You pick it up, and a week later you got the same amount back out there again," Dobson told WHAM. "And if you get any strong windstorms, it's even worse."
Dobson said he does his best to keep a clean yard. But that's getting harder to do with the amount of litter blowing in their yard.
"Certainly, we want to have a nice looking yard, but it's pretty hard to when you have to go out there once a week and clean things up," he told WHAM.
The couple has lived at the same location for 50 years, and the street they live on is named for them. But this past week, the Town of Greece issued the couple a citation for not cleaning up the litter, WHAM reported.
Enter the McQuaid Jesuit cross-country team. On Saturday, several members of the squad picked up all the trash and installed a barrier fence, Rochester First reported.
People passing by also stopped to lend a hand, said Karen Donahower, whose two sons are members of the McQuaid squad.
"It wasn't just us; people were stopping. A women and a couple little girls stopped and helped with the trash cleanup and a man came over and helped with the fencing," she told Rochester First.
Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich said the town came up with an additional solution to help the Dobsons.
"They have agreed to issue locks for all the dumpsters to prevent that from happening and they also agreed to police the area behind the plaza and will pick up the trash on the Dobsons’ road," Reilich told Rochester First.
Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 10:40 AM
Updated: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 11:24 AM
— Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines announced Saturday it is ending a discount for National Rifle Association members.
The move comes as some other businesses broke ties with the NRA amid debate over gun control in the wake of the Parkland school shooting in Florida earlier this month.
“We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from its website,” Delta said in a written statement.
Following is a list of some of the companies that have cut ties or distanced themselves from the NRA:
United Airlines -- United tweeted Saturday, "United is notifying the NRA that we will no longer offer a discounted rate to their annual meeting and we are asking that the NRA remove our information from their website."
Delta Air Lines -- Delta issued the following statement Saturday: "Delta is reaching out to the National Rifle Association to let it know we will be ending its contract for discounted rates through our group travel program. We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from its website."
First National Bank of Omaha -- The bank announced that it would not renew a co-branded Visa credit-card with the NRA.
The Hertz Corp. -- The rental car company ended its discount program for NRA members.
MetLife Inc. -- The insurer terminated discounts that had been offered to NRA members on the NRA website
Enterprise Holdings Inc. -- The car rental company that also owns Alamo and National cut off discounts for NRA members.
Symantec Corp. -- The software company that makes Norton Antivirus technology ended its discount program with the NRA.
Chubb Ltd. -- The insurer announced it was ending participation in the NRA's gun-owner insurance program, though it provided notice three months ago.
Best Western -- The hotel chain told multiple social media users that it was no longer affiliated with the NRA, though it did not say when that decision was made.
Wyndham Hotels -- The hotel chain told social media users it is no longer affiliated with the NRA without specifying when that decision was made.
Starkey Hearing Technologies -- We have made the decision not to renew our discount program with the NRA. We will be asking them to remove our information from their website.
The NRA has released the following statement:
"The more than five million law-abiding members of the National Rifle Association have enjoyed discounts and cost-saving programs from many American corporations that have partnered with the NRA to expand member benefits.
"Since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, a number of companies have decided to sever their relationship with the NRA, in an effort to punish our members who are doctors, farmers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, nurses, shop owners and school teachers that live in every American community. We are men and women who represent every American ethnic group, every one of the world’s religions and every form of political commitment.
"The law-abiding members of the NRA had nothing at all to do with the failure of that school’s security preparedness, the failure of America’s mental health system, the failure of the National Instant Check System or the cruel failures of both federal and local law enforcement.
"Despite that, some corporations have decided to punish NRA membership in a shameful display of political and civic cowardice. In time, these brands will be replaced by others who recognize that patriotism and determined commitment to Constitutional freedoms are characteristics of a marketplace they very much want to serve.
"Let it be absolutely clear. The loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission to stand and defend the individual freedoms that have always made America the greatest nation in the world."
Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 1:08 PM
EL PASO, Texas — A Texas teenage mother was arrested Friday, accused of killing her newborn child earlier this month, police said.
Erica Gomez, 17, is accused of stabbing her newborn child, wrapping the infant girl in a bathrobe and hiding the body in a storage shed at a home in the El Paso area, police said. The infant's body was found Feb. 9 by authorities, the El Paso Times reported.
The infant had a stab wound and cuts to the neck and body, according to a news release from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.
Published: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 10:14 AM
— One woman got a whole lot more than she paid for in a college science class when she uncovered a nasty family secret.
The unnamed student discovered that her father — the man who had raised her since she was a child and who she called “dad” for her entire life — wasn’t really her father. He was her uncle. And the story is just as bizarre as it sounds. Thankfully, Twitter user “Anya” managed to explain it:
How a girl in my biology lecture found out her dad wasn't really her dad by my prof— Anya (@anyahettich) February 21, 2018