By

John Davey

Updated

January 19, 2024

Edited By

Fausto Bucheli Jr
in vehicle information system screen
image credit - RossHelen // Canva

Eyes on the Road or on the Screen: How In-Vehicle Tech Affects Your Driving (and Your Insurance)

As sleek dashboards adorned with gleaming touchscreens become the norm, a crucial question arises: are these technological marvels making our roads safer or transforming them into digital danger zones? While the allure of convenience and connectivity is undeniable, concerns about distracted driving and its impact on insurance rates loom large. Follow along as Cheap Insurance explores the complex relationship between in-vehicle touchscreens, driver focus, and the potential consequences for both your safety and your chances to find cheaper car insurance.

vehicle infotainment touch screen

Key Takeaways:

  • Touchscreens can be distracting, but their impact goes beyond glances. Visual overload, cognitive load, and temptation traps can impair focus and reaction times.
  • In-vehicle tech can influence insurance premiums, both positively and negatively. Explore telematics programs for potential discounts, but be aware of potential risks.
  • The future of safe driving involves balancing convenience and safety. Embrace voice control, demand safer screen design, and prioritize responsible tech usage.
  • Choose physical controls when possible to minimize distraction. They offer fast, intuitive interaction without taking eyes off the road.
  • Harness technology for good. Explore ADAS features, driver monitoring systems, and V2X communication for a safer, more connected driving experience.

Do Touchscreens Increase Distracted Driving Accidents?

The short answer is yes, in-vehicle touchscreens can significantly increase the risk of distracted driving accidents. Studies consistently show that using touchscreens while driving takes your eyes off the road for longer periods and impairs critical cognitive functions like reaction time and spatial awareness.

  • ¬†¬†A 2017 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety¬†found that looking at a touchscreen or other electronic devices while driving took drivers’ eyes off the road for an average of 40 seconds when sending a text message or programming navigation ‚Äď long enough to cover the length of four football fields at 25 mph.
  • Another¬†study by the University of Utah¬†researchers found drivers using features such as voice-based and touch-screen technology took their hands, eyes and mind off the road for more than 24 seconds to complete tasks.


These findings align with real-world data.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that distracted driving contributes to 3,522 fatalities during 2021, or 8% of all traffic fatalities. While smartphones often take the blame, research indicates that in-vehicle technology is increasingly contributing to this alarming trend.

vehicle infotainment system touchscreen
image credit - Erik-McLean

Insurance Claims and Touchscreen Use: The Data Speaks

The link between touchscreen use and insurance claims is becoming increasingly clear. Several major insurance companies are starting to collect data on how in-vehicle technology correlates with accident rates and claim frequency. While conclusive evidence is still emerging, early indications are concerning.

  • State Farm reported a 45% increase in distracted driving claims involving vehicles equipped with advanced infotainment systems compared to those without.
  • Progressive Insurance reported that the NHTSA found that distracted driving was blamed for 8.7% of all crash fatalities in 2019, observing that organizations like AAA are engaged in research regarding infotainment systems impact on driver safety.


These trends suggest that insurance companies may start factoring in touchscreen usage into their risk assessments and premium calculations in the future. This could mean higher insurance costs for drivers with vehicles equipped with complex infotainment systems or who demonstrate frequent touchscreen interaction while driving.

Can Safe Technology Design Reduce Driver Distraction?

Not all hope is lost. The automotive industry is aware of the growing concern about distracted driving and is actively developing ways to mitigate the risks associated with in-vehicle touchscreens. Some promising approaches include:

  • Voice-activated controls: Reducing the need for manual touchscreen interaction can significantly improve driver focus.
  • Multimodal feedback: Utilizing haptic feedback and audio cues to supplement visual information can help drivers keep their eyes on the road.
  • Simplified interfaces: Minimizing the number of menus and functions readily accessible on the touchscreen can decrease cognitive load and prevent attention overload.
  • Driver monitoring systems: Implementing technology that detects when a driver’s eyes are off the road and automatically disables distracting features can be a powerful deterrent.


These advancements offer hope for a future where in-vehicle technology enhances our driving experience without compromising safety. However, it’s crucial for drivers to remain vigilant and prioritize their attention on the road, regardless of the technological capabilities at their fingertips.

vehicle touchscreen
image credit - Skylar Kang

Multitasking Mayhem: Touchscreens and Cognitive Load

The human brain, while adept at multitasking, has limitations. Touchscreens, with their plethora of functions and information, overload our cognitive capacity. Juggling music selection, navigation adjustments, and phone calls while driving consumes mental resources needed for essential driving tasks like judging speed and maintaining lane position.

  • Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that performing any secondary task while driving increases the risk of a crash by three times.
  • A¬†2019 study¬†suggested that 1) locking out tasks such as in vehicle text messaging, dialing a ten digit phone number, or displaying more than 30 characters on the vehicle touchscreen at a time while the vehicle is in motion, or 2) shortening task interaction time while the vehicle is in motion, would be two wise methods that would reduce overall interaction times with in vehicle information systems, and reduce potential distractions.


This evidence highlights how touchscreens can overwhelm our cognitive abilities, leading to impaired decision-making and reduced situational awareness behind the wheel.

touch screen distractions

The Temptation Trap: Notifications, Calls, and Navigation

Touchscreens act like digital sirens, beckoning us with notifications, calls, and navigation prompts. These constant interruptions, while seemingly harmless, can be incredibly seductive, drawing our attention away from the road for a split second that can have disastrous consequences.

  • A study by the¬†National Library of Medicine¬†found that crash risk increases when the duration of eye glances greater than 2 seconds away from the roadway while engaged in a secondary task. They also reported that drivers using a cell phone (operating, talking, and listening) had eyes-off-road times as long as 4 seconds, with slower responses to hazards than drivers not engaged in potentially distracting behaviors.
  • Research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates that drivers who take their eyes off the road for even 2.3 seconds to check a phone double the risk of a crash.


These findings underscore how the seemingly innocuous notifications and prompts on touchscreens can create a powerful temptation trap, leading to momentary lapses in focus with potentially fatal outcomes.

In conclusion, the hidden dangers of in-vehicle touchscreens lie not just in their visual demands but also in their ability to overload our cognitive capacity and trap us in a web of distractions. Recognizing these subtle threats is the first step towards driving with awareness and prioritizing the safety of ourselves and others on the road.

image credit - Erik-McLean

Beyond Safety: How In-Vehicle Tech Impacts Your Auto Insurance Premiums

As technology transforms our cars into rolling tech hubs, the question arises: how does this newfound connectivity impact our auto insurance rates? While the safety implications of touchscreens and other in-vehicle tech are crucial, the financial consequences can’t be ignored. Let’s delve into this complex relationship, exploring the potential for both penalties and rewards hidden within these digital dashboards.

Will Your Insurance Company Penalize You for a High-Tech Dashboard?

The jury’s still out on whether owning a car with a high-tech infotainment system will directly lead to higher insurance premiums. While concerns exist, insurers are cautiously approaching this new frontier.

  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) hasn’t yet incorporated in-vehicle technology into its rating system, which influences many insurance rates.
  • Some insurance companies are exploring pilot programs using telematics data from connected cars to tailor premiums based on individual driving behavior, but this is still in its early stages.


However, it’s important to remember that insurance companies consider various factors when setting premiums, including the car’s model, safety features, and driver demographics. While a high-tech dashboard might not be a direct penalty factor yet, it could be considered alongside other elements influencing your risk profile.

Telematics and Touchscreens: The Potential for Lower Premiums

While the potential for higher premiums exists, the flip side of the coin presents exciting possibilities for responsible drivers. Telematics, the technology that collects driving data through connected cars, holds the key to personalized auto insurance rates based on actual driving habits.

In the future, advancements in telematics and driver monitoring systems could further incentivize safe driving habits and reward responsible drivers with lower insurance costs. Imagine a world where your in-vehicle technology, instead of distracting you, becomes your advocate, earning you discounts for being a safe and focused driver.

As the landscape of in-vehicle technology and its impact on insurance evolves, it’s crucial for drivers to stay informed and make conscious choices. Here are some tips:

  • Research telematics programs: Explore the offerings of different insurance companies and understand how their telematics programs work to see if they could benefit your driving habits.
  • Prioritize safety features: Choose in-vehicle tech with features like voice-activated controls and driver monitoring systems that minimize distractions and promote safe driving.
  • Ask your insurance agent: Talk to your insurance agent about how your specific car model and its technology features might impact your premium.


By understanding the potential rewards and risks associated with in-vehicle technology, you can make informed choices that enhance your driving experience, secure your financial well-being, and contribute to a safer road for everyone.

in car touchscreen
image credit - Erik-McLean

The Insurance Impact: How Much Does a High-Tech Car Cost You?

While the exact impact of in-vehicle tech on auto insurance rates is still evolving, it’s important to consider the potential cost. Here’s how your high-tech dashboard might influence your premiums:

  • The “luxury tax”: Cars with advanced infotainment systems are often perceived as luxury vehicles, potentially leading to higher insurance costs.
  • Telematics programs: While some programs offer car insurance discounts for safe driving, they collect data on your driving habits, which could impact your rates if deemed risky.
  • Future trends: As insurance companies gather more data on in-vehicle tech and its correlation with accidents, they may factor it more heavily into premium calculations.


It’s important to talk to your insurance agent and understand how your specific vehicle and its technology features might affect your rates. By staying informed, you can make conscious choices when purchasing a car and potentially avoid unwelcome surprises on your next insurance bill.

in vehicle infotainment system

Can Technology Save Lives? The Future of In-Vehicle Safety and Driver Assistance

Despite the challenges, in-vehicle technology also holds immense potential for safeguarding lives and improving driving experiences. Here’s a glimpse into the future of safety innovations:

  • Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS): Features like lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control can significantly reduce the risk of accidents.
  • Driver monitoring systems: Sensors and cameras can detect drowsiness, distraction, and even potential medical issues, prompting warnings or taking corrective actions.
  • Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication: Cars communicating with each other and infrastructure can anticipate hazards and prevent collisions.


These advancements, coupled with responsible driver behavior and responsible design of in-vehicle technologies, can pave the way for a future where our cars become proactive partners in road safety. By embracing the good while mitigating the risks, we can harness the power of in-vehicle technology to safeguard ourselves and everyone else on the road, and just maybe provide avenues for 
cheaper auto insurance.