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Euro NCAP, and its Australian counterpart, ANCAP, urge manufacturers to incorporate physical buttons for crucial functions. These include indicators, hazard lights, horns, warning lights, windscreen wipers, and emergency ‘SOS’ features. The move aims to enhance driver safety by minimising distractions caused by touchscreens.

“New Euro NCAP tests due in 2026 will encourage manufacturers to use separate, physical controls for basic functions in an intuitive manner, limiting eyes-off-road time and therefore promoting safer driving,” said Euro NCAP Director of Strategic Development Matthew Avery.

Meanwhile, ANCAP CEO Carla Hoorweg told the press, “Physical buttons or stalks to operate these key vehicle controls will be encouraged through scoring, with manufacturers awarded points for the prioritisation of physical controls.”

The automotive industry, led by Tesla, has been shifting towards touchscreens to reduce manufacturing costs. However, the overreliance on touchscreens has raised concerns about driver distraction.

In response to the growing issue of touchscreens causing distractions, ANCAP also emphasised the importance of easily accessible controls.

“We know driver distraction is a growing factor in road crashes, so it is important that certain in-vehicle controls are easily accessible by the driver and don’t complicate the driving task or contribute to in-car distraction or inattention,” Ms. Hoorweg said

The proposed changes will not make physical buttons mandatory for a five-star safety rating but will encourage their use through a scoring system. Vehicles incorporating physical buttons for key controls will be rewarded with five points, contributing to their overall safety score.

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