The touchscreens in our cars are designed to facilitate things like navigation, music control, and even messaging while drivers sit behind the wheel. Touchscreens are very useful it has to be said and they offer a surprisingly cheaper alternative to hard buttons and switches; manufacturers prefer not to mention that cost-saving. The problem though is that touchscreens require a driver’s attention in a way that old-fashioned buttons don’t. Consider for example how we use the indicator stalk; it’s just a flick of a finger away and we don’t even need to look at it. The same does not apply to searching for Planet Rock on the DAB radio or calling your Mum via Bluetooth.
To allegedly make it easier for us, touchscreen technology is informed to an extent by smartphone design. This might be convenient but the characteristics of a touchscreen on a phone are not necessarily the same. Thus, even the best-designed touchscreens present some distraction. Some experts consider that screens, by their very nature, are simply not ideal for use in vehicles. Today’s car technology is becoming harder to use and that means distraction. It reflects the long-standing and on-going issue of the use of smartphones behind the wheel; despite all the laws and publicity it is still happening big time.
Some car makers are beginning to understand this. For example, the director of design at Jaguar, responsible for the new XE saloon and the F-Type among other vehicles, has no plans to put a big twelve inch iPad-like screen in his cars. In fact he was critical of big screens as pioneered by Tesla and the like. In some countries it is possible to drive at 80-90 miles an hour and at these speeds drivers really should not be flipping around a massive touchscreen looking to move door mirrors or seat controls. Even at our more sedate seventy, fiddling with touchscreens is still a major cause of dangerous distraction. The thing about old school dashboard ergonomics is that drivers can feel their way around the controls without looking at them for more than a split-second.
Taking a different approach then, the new Jaguar XE has a dual-screen system, with major information at the top and minor things, such as climate control, below. The controls are designed to be more tactile to provide the driver with a sense that they are part of something mechanical, in the way it once was with switches.
The Survey Says
It seems plainly apparent then that modern technology in cars is causing increasing distractions. In fact, a recent American survey says that the current generation is the most distracted generation of drivers yet. Over seventy percent of American drivers confessed to using their mobile phones while driving, while at the same time acknowledging that they believe the biggest safety threat on the road is driving distracted! Go figure.
Neither are the Americans the only ones at fault. Down under, in Australia, distraction is one of the leading causes of fatal road crashes, alongside old-fashioned speeding and drink-driving. We here in the UK don’t get off lightly either and it is clear that better education about distraction and the use of technology in cars is needed wherever you live. Here at eCars247
we always advocate safer driving and to this end all of our cars are fully AA inspected and HPI-checked
to make sure there is no dodgy history. Don’t let touchscreen troubles let you down.