When it comes to on-road safety, driver distraction is a loose cannon.  The US government has defined 9 distracted driving behaviors including: texting, using a cell phone, eating and drinking, grooming, talking to passengers, reading, using a navigation system, watching a video, and adjusting the radio or other music players. Among these behaviors, using a navigation system seems unavoidable in the driving experience. The common use of smartphone navigation apps can make it even more distracting, in the following three ways:

Smartphone multitasking  

Smartphone’s have been disruptive to many parts of our life in the last ten years, and driving with a smartphone navigation app is no exception. In the TechCrunch article: Smartphone Makers Need To Put An End To Distracted Driving, it addresses the use of other smartphone apps such as social networks, music and games, stating that they are the main reasons why cell phones are responsible for 1 of 4 car crashes.

Distracting information in the app

Many smartphone apps contain social interactions, or mobile ads, which pop up on screen during driving, resulting in increased driver distraction.  In comparison, dedicated GPS devices and embedded in-dash solutions are meant solely for navigation and thus do not include interactions or ads. In his blog post, auto accident attorney Steven Gursten analyzes the danger of using these types of smartphone apps while behind the wheel.

Voice command is not a panacea

Does hands-free mean risk-free? According to a report by AAA Foundation, performing voice command tasks while driving can cause distractions even if the driver keeps his or her eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Researchers also found that in the worst performing systems studies, the mental distraction can last up to 27 seconds after the task has been completed (See below brief). Additionally, an unfriendly voice command system could induce serious car accidents.


To eliminate driving distractions caused from smartphone navigation, Auto OEMs and navigation solution providers have invested heavily to deliver more intuitive HMI designs on embedded and brought-in navigation systems. According to ABI Research, by 2019, 38% of new globally shipped cars will include embedded in-dash navigation units. Brought-in solutions, such as Apple Carplay, Android Auto, Ford AppLink, and Bosch MySPIN where navigation apps are tethered from a smartphone to the infotainment platform in the head unit through USB, WiFi, Bluetooth, are also becoming an emerging trend led by Apple and Google. However, in the end drivers are the only ones that can control their behavior on the road.