New cars often boast a slick touch screen, replacing buttons and dials found in old vehicle models, but do they prove to be a larger distraction than we should have while driving?
Swedish car magazine Vi Bilägare performed a test to measure the level of distraction replaces buttons and dials with screens creates, using selection of 12 vehicles of various makes and models.
The magazine found test drivers took their eyes off the road and were distracted for longer when driving cars with touchscreen-based controls for features such as the stereo and air conditioning.
Clearly labelled buttons and dials proved easier for test drivers to use, allowing them to refocus on the road faster. The worst-performing car (with a screen) needed 1400 metres to perform the same four tasks for which the best-performing car (without a screen) only needed 300 metres.
“Regardless of how large the screens are, these systems need to be designed to command as little of the driver’s attention as possible. Systems can integrate voice commands, for example, which IIHS research has found to reduce glances away from the road. Voice commands should pick up natural speech, shouldn’t require a lot of steps and shouldn’t require on-screen confirmations,” the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety told Newsweek.
Tests like these indicate the introduction of screen-based cabin controls in vehicles may not be the best for drivers but we continue to see screens new models with this technology.
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