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Touch Screens Are Distracting Drivers. What Are Carmakers Doing To Help?

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Touch Screens Are Distracting Drivers. What Are Carmakers Doing To Help?

Old 02-16-23, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul
I find it interesting that with all the technology that goes into F1 racing, the critical functions are still controlled by knobs and buttons. The digital display just tells them where the buttons currently are.
Can you imagine the average driver getting into his/her grocery getter and seeing something like this?

Have you ever seen Star Wars? I always wondered what all those knobs and switches in the Millemium Falcon that Han Solo and Chewbaca were turning and adjusting.

Now picture what a disaster flying cars will create.
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Old 02-17-23, 06:16 AM
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Originally Posted by phughes
Yes, that is true. My point is, the reason manufacturers began putting screens in the car, was due to the requirement of rear view cameras. The began doing it in anticipation of the requirement. They then bgan using it for other functions.
I think you have the causation backwards. It's the practicality of inserting a small screen that made the imposition of a rear-camera a no-brainer regulation. There really is no practical way to work around the kid-sized rear view blind spot using mirrors.

Those initial screens were pretty small, they're now getting bigger. Is there any reason to believe this is making drivers more distracted other than the musings of a bunch of older men on the thread?

I can't prove the counterfactual, but screens were an inevitability regardless of regulation. Cars are hardly unique in being changed from mechanical knobs and switches to digital interfaces. They're cheaper now, generally more durable, and can be designed to be intuitive.

​​​
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Old 02-17-23, 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions
Those initial screens were pretty small, they're now getting bigger. Is there any reason to believe this is making drivers more distracted other than the musings of a bunch of older men on the thread? ​​​
It's not the size of the screen that causes the distraction. It's the addition of controls via menus and sub-menus.
Before retirement, I was a regional technical specialist - in fact, I covered the six New England states for an import manufacturer. I can attest to the fact that so many "issues" with a car's operation were due to the driver not being able to 'intuitively' figure out how to navigate all the functions on those screens to accomplish what used to be done with a button or knob. I currently own two vehicles. The one I drive is a 'base' model, specifically purchased because it has things like HVAC control that consist of three knobs (temp, airflow, fan speed) and one button (A/C) that I can control without even glancing down at them. The other was my late wife's car, a top of the line model with a large screen, where I have to look at the screen to touch the correct area to get to the HVAC control menu, then navigate to a sub menu to control the digital dual-temp settings (which is doo-doo, IMHO - it all evens out in the cabin anyway.)
I won't even go into how to reset the clock for DST.
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Old 02-17-23, 06:55 AM
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So rereading the op article, I have to ask, car screens are distracting compared to what? We haven't been satisfied with radio push buttons for at least 40 years. How many people got killed fumbling with cassette tapes and cds while driving? People without dashboard screens are doing mostly the same things on their phones while driving. Improving screen interfaces is a work in progress, but I really have no reason to believe they have been making things worse so far.
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Old 02-17-23, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul
It's not the size of the screen that causes the distraction. It's the addition of controls via menus and sub-menus.
Before retirement, I was a regional technical specialist - in fact, I covered the six New England states for an import manufacturer. I can attest to the fact that so many "issues" with a car's operation were due to the driver not being able to 'intuitively' figure out how to navigate all the functions on those screens to accomplish what used to be done with a button or knob. I currently own two vehicles. The one I drive is a 'base' model, specifically purchased because it has things like HVAC control that consist of three knobs (temp, airflow, fan speed) and one button (A/C) that I can control without even glancing down at them. The other was my late wife's car, a top of the line model with a large screen, where I have to look at the screen to touch the correct area to get to the HVAC control menu, then navigate to a sub menu to control the digital dual-temp settings (which is doo-doo, IMHO - it all evens out in the cabin anyway.)
I won't even go into how to reset the clock for DST.
The size of the screen point was just about whether it was fair to attribute the presence of the screens on the dash to the NHTSA requirement for a rear-view camera. I think that the size is now so much larger than what would be necessary for that is evidence the manufacturers knew they had to head that way anyway. The OP article states that the reason for the screens really has been trying to get drivers to stop picking up their cell phones to control a lot of features that have never been controlled by mechanical switches.

I absolutely agree that a GUI can be poorly designed, but I've seen a fair number of them in various rental cars, and some of them are very simple and intuitive. I don't know about you, but I find it a lot easier to tap 2 buttons on a screen, one for which function and another for temperature to control the "HVAC" system than to learn the oftentimes overly complex knob and button arrangements I've seen on some poorly designed dashes. My car still has mechanical knobs for air con/heat/defog, and I do have to glance down to see where the temp knob is pointing. I'm used to it, I suspect I underestimate the time I end up looking away from the road doing so.

You're not setting the clock while driving, are you? LOL (to be clear, I know you were kidding about that).

I don't think the distraction issue for environmental controls is anywhere near the problem that the entertainment/texting/navigation control through the phone is. I'd need to see some real-world data, not lab stuff, before I'd think otherwise..
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Old 02-17-23, 08:18 AM
  #56  
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a federal level standardizing of a vehicles' touch screen might be worth entertaining.
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Old 02-17-23, 08:49 AM
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the touch screen in my mint (only 30k miles) Durango is starting to delaminate or something. It looks like water between two pieces of plastic, is the only way I can describe it. So ya, not a fan of the touch screen for multiple reasons.
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Old 02-17-23, 08:52 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions
Those initial screens were pretty small, they're now getting bigger. Is there any reason to believe this is making drivers more distracted other than the musings of a bunch of older men on the thread?
​​​
The "musings of a bunch of older men " is a polite phrase to describe the highly emotional rants sometimes encountered on BF, especially A&S, about the hoards of motorists inflicting horrendous carnage on bicyclists because they are always distracted while driving by screens and texting. These "musings" often provide anecdotal "evidence" from the poster that a large percentage of motorists that they have seen are texting while driving and/or driving while seldom looking up from their "screens."

If these musing posters were credible and to be believed, it seems remarkable that anybody could complete any trip on a street, without a catastrophe occurring due to collisions with cars being driven by people who are not looking at the road; perhaps these musing posters are cycling in a land of self-driving cars.
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Old 02-17-23, 08:56 AM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions
The size of the screen point was just about whether it was fair to attribute the presence of the screens on the dash to the NHTSA requirement for a rear-view camera. I think that the size is now so much larger than what would be necessary for that is evidence the manufacturers knew they had to head that way anyway. The OP article states that the reason for the screens really has been trying to get drivers to stop picking up their cell phones to control a lot of features that have never been controlled by mechanical switches.

I absolutely agree that a GUI can be poorly designed, but I've seen a fair number of them in various rental cars, and some of them are very simple and intuitive. I don't know about you, but I find it a lot easier to tap 2 buttons on a screen, one for which function and another for temperature to control the "HVAC" system than to learn the oftentimes overly complex knob and button arrangements I've seen on some poorly designed dashes. My car still has mechanical knobs for air con/heat/defog, and I do have to glance down to see where the temp knob is pointing. I'm used to it, I suspect I underestimate the time I end up looking away from the road doing so.

You're not setting the clock while driving, are you? LOL (to be clear, I know you were kidding about that).

I don't think the distraction issue for environmental controls is anywhere near the problem that the entertainment/texting/navigation control through the phone is. I'd need to see some real-world data, not lab stuff, before I'd think otherwise..
Anything that takes your eyes off the road ahead of you, be it a phone or screen, is inherently dangerous. Even with the HUD displays in some vehicles, drivers will tend to focus on the display, and not what is beyond it. I think eventually all of the non-essential systems in cars (entertainment, navigation, climate control) will be voice activated and controlled. We already have Alexa controlling our homes, why not our cars?
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Old 02-17-23, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul
Anything that takes your eyes off the road ahead of you, be it a phone or screen, is inherently dangerous. Even with the HUD displays in some vehicles, drivers will tend to focus on the display, and not what is beyond it. I think eventually all of the non-essential systems in cars (entertainment, navigation, climate control) will be voice activated and controlled. We already have Alexa controlling our homes, why not our cars?

Phone, screen, mechanical knob, lipstick, coffee cup, egg mcmuffin, seat belt buckle, etc., etc. take your eyes off the road, Before digital streaming, it was fumbling with the controls of the Mp3 player, and before that it was juggling CD discs, and before that it was popping cassettes in and out, and freaking out when the tape got bolloxed up inside the player. We're getting into knee-jerk screen bad, other distractions already accounted for territory here. Any serious conversation regarding making screen control safer has to look at how it compares with the alternatives without pretending that the alternatives don't have their own issues.

As far as voice activation. speak for yourself--nothing in my home is controlled that way, I find voice activation to be inaccurate enough that I don't want it running anything critical and I also find the need to repeat things different ways that the computer can understand incredibly irritating and distracting..

Navigation definitely requires you to glance at a screen and it's been around for quite some time now, please show me anything that supports that the introduction of GPS led to a decrease in safety.

The screens aren't going away, and I think there would be a considerable decrease in safety if they did. The OP article isn't arguing for doing away with them, just for having better design.

"drivers will tend to focus on the display, and not what is beyond it" is a pretty bold assertion. I don't see why that would be any more true of a screen than a mechanical dial. Have people gotten killed a lot by focusing on their speedometers?
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Old 02-17-23, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Troul
a federal level standardizing of a vehicles' touch screen might be worth entertaining.

One of the things I find funny about this discussions is that there seems to be some idea that mechanical dashes were somehow standardized to an intuitive norm, and I know that every time I change cars, I spend at least the first few minutes in the vehicle trying to operate switches and levers in places they are not.

If I know the climate control stuff is hard to navigate in a touch screen vehicle, I'm just going to learn very quickly to set it before I start driving, or at least wait until a stop light to adjust it.
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Old 02-17-23, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
The "musings of a bunch of older men " is a polite phrase to describe the highly emotional rants sometimes encountered on BF, especially A&S, about the hoards of motorists inflicting horrendous carnage on bicyclists because they are always distracted while driving by screens and texting. These "musings" often provide anecdotal "evidence" from the poster that a large percentage of motorists that they have seen are texting while driving and/or driving while seldom looking up from their "screens."

If these musing posters were credible and to be believed, it seems remarkable that anybody could complete any trip on a street, without a catastrophe occurring due to collisions with cars being driven by people who are not looking at the road; perhaps these musing posters are cycling in a land of self-driving cars.

Don't try to recruit me into any claim that distracted driving isn't a major problem, it's just that people on BF exaggerate the proportion of the several thousands of deaths that is attributable to phones and their screens and speculate wildly on actual incidents based on their estimations.
https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-ve...acted-driving/

My life is an anecdote, excuse me if I don't adjust my experiences to suit your narrative. I have witnessed people doing crazy things with their cars while texting, I don't particularly care if you consider that relevant evidence for things for me to watch out for.

25 years ago, I pushed my child's stroller in front of a car that was waiting in a driveway, the driver staring straight ahead right at us and talking on a cell phone. She suddenly started to go when we were both just a couple feet in front of her. Obviously, our presence had not registered on her. I literally pounded on her hood to get her to stop. She then rolled down the window to apologize. The incident has stayed with me because t so vividly demonstrated how easy it is to not even know you're distracted. It's also why I react so vehemently when people stress making eye contact as a safety measure--I could see her face the whole time, and as far as I could tell, she was looking straight at me and my son. Again, I don't care if you think that's a valid reason to be wary of cell phone users in cars, do what you want..
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Old 02-17-23, 11:41 AM
  #63  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions
25 years ago, I pushed my child's stroller in front of a car that was waiting in a driveway, the driver staring straight ahead right at us and talking on a cell phone. She suddenly started to go when we were both just a couple feet in front of her. Obviously, our presence had not registered on her. I literally pounded on her hood to get her to stop. She then rolled down the window to apologize. The incident has stayed with me because t so vividly demonstrated how easy it is to not even know you're distracted. It's also why I react so vehemently when people stress making eye contact as a safety measure--I could see her face the whole time, and as far as I could tell, she was looking straight at me and my son.
Sort of like staring at that HUD display, and not seeing what was beyond?
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Old 02-17-23, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions
people stress making eye contact as a safety measure-
This brings up a valid concern that I've been noticing as years progress... with the shapes/slopes/design of modern windshields, it's near impossible to make-out whether or not the operator is looking forward.

The type of materials being used for making the windshield have a glare that makes the OEM unaltered window hard to see through.
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Old 02-17-23, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul
Sort of like staring at that HUD display, and not seeing what was beyond?
No, actually the opposite--she was staring through us at the road at the end of the driveway.

No screen involved--the connection you're drawing is simplistic. Keep in mind, we're talking 1990s brick size cell phone at this point so it's not like she could have been looking at texts or something..

I notice you aren't answering why there's any reason to believe that HUD or any other form of screen display would be more distracting than mechanical dial indicators on the dash or big LED numbers or whatever. Could someone become distracted by a HUD? I guess. Is there any reason to think that's more likely to occur than if it was an analog display and/or on the dash? My anecdote has literally nothing to do with that, and if anything, suggests that the source of the distraction can be pretty damn random.

If your goal is to build a distraction-free vehicle, I think you're going to have to redesign the driver. Ideally, AI would be the answer, but so far it's worse at sorting out signal from noise than humans.
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Old 02-17-23, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Troul
This brings up a valid concern that I've been noticing as years progress... with the shapes/slopes/design of modern windshields, it's near impossible to make-out whether or not the operator is looking forward.

The type of materials being used for making the windshield have a glare that makes the OEM unaltered window hard to see through.

I don't think eye focus has ever been a reliable indicator of attention. There's what I like to call the Mona Lisa effect, where we think everybody is looking at us if we can see their pupils.

I'm pretty sure the "so absorbed in the cell phone conversation you don't see what's in front of you" is a real thing. On a MUP, I had to scream at a pedestrian who stepped right into my path jut a few feet ahead of me while I was riding in the opposite direction, and I absolutely could have sworn he was staring right at me the whole time, phone in his ear. Very, very near miss. The scream was a warning, I think it bought me a split second to avoid him.
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Old 02-17-23, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions
Don't try to recruit me into any claim that distracted driving isn't a major problem, it's just that people on BF exaggerate the proportion of the several thousands of deaths that is attributable to phones and their screens and speculate wildly on actual incidents based on their estimations.
No need to "recruit" you to any claim, since you are just rewording exactly what I posted. I wouldn't think that you can be "recruited" to agree with anyone whom you prefer to use for sniping at and taking potshots.

People on BF exaggerate the proportion of the several thousands of deaths that is attributable to phones and their screens and speculate wildly on actual incidents based on their estimations
Vis--vis
highly emotional rants sometimes encountered on BF, especially A&S, about the hoards of motorists inflicting horrendous carnage on bicyclists because they are always distracted while driving by screens and texting. These "musings" often provide anecdotal "evidence" from the poster that a large percentage of motorists that they have seen are texting while driving and/or driving while seldom looking up from their "screens.
Tomato vis--vis tomahtoe. Disagree if you must.

An anecdote about a 25 year old incident does not validate the description of the war zone like scenario for cyclists under a constant threat of near misses and collisions from hordes of drivers continuously distracted by screen gazing, described in the anecdotes of some BF posters.
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Old 02-17-23, 01:03 PM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions
I think you have the causation backwards. It's the practicality of inserting a small screen that made the imposition of a rear-camera a no-brainer regulation. There really is no practical way to work around the kid-sized rear view blind spot using mirrors.

Those initial screens were pretty small, they're now getting bigger. Is there any reason to believe this is making drivers more distracted other than the musings of a bunch of older men on the thread?

I can't prove the counterfactual, but screens were an inevitability regardless of regulation. Cars are hardly unique in being changed from mechanical knobs and switches to digital interfaces. They're cheaper now, generally more durable, and can be designed to be intuitive.

​​​
If you want to to get precise about it, the first touch screen used in a car was in the 1986 Buick Riviera. Yes, some models with higher end options began using them over the years. They were used to enable more function for various cabin devices, heat, A/C, etc. Lower model did not use them because there was no need for them. They became commonplace, when the NHTSA began talking about mandating the cameras. Once the mandate was made, they quickly became standard in cars in anticipation of the mandate going into effect. I was very interested in what the NHTSA was doing at the time, and read everything related to their thoughts on backup cameras as they pondered the mandate. This went back a log time. As a result, I kept an eye on what auto manufacturers were doing in response.

I do not buy the intuitiveness of a menu system over tactile controls in a car, for heating and A/C. You can have MORE controls with a touch screen, but when driving I am not sure that is a great thing. I used to drive between 1000 and 3000 miles a week, and did so for about ten years. I knew the controls and could use them without taking my eyes off of the road. I even bough vehicles based on the placement of the controls, preferring a radio to be mounted high so that you could see the display, coupled with actual knobs and buttons. VW was made that way back then. All their controls were laid out so that they were easy to use and recognize by touch. Then they began slowly integrating a screen.

I have rented many cars with touch screens, and logged thousands of miles on cars using them. I became familiar with the ones I commonly rented, and still dislike them, since you cannot feel the control, and therefore have to look at the screen. I will not deny a luxurious feel to a car with a nice big screen, but that doesn't translate into ease of use, and safe use while driving, for me anyway.

Anyway, that is my experience, and background relating to this subject, as well as what is simply my opinion and preference. You have your own preferences. I don't have any more to say on the subject.
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Old 02-17-23, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions
No, actually the opposite--she was staring through us at the road at the end of the driveway.

No screen involved--the connection you're drawing is simplistic. Keep in mind, we're talking 1990s brick size cell phone at this point so it's not like she could have been looking at texts or something...
Not really. It's like target fixation - the person focuses on one thing, and doesn't see anything else that they should be paying attention to. It really doesn't matter if it's the end of the driveway, texting on a phone, or a HUD display.

Originally Posted by livedarklions
I notice you aren't answering why there's any reason to believe that HUD or any other form of screen display would be more distracting than mechanical dial indicators on the dash or big LED numbers or whatever. Could someone become distracted by a HUD? I guess. Is there any reason to think that's more likely to occur than if it was an analog display and/or on the dash? My anecdote has literally nothing to do with that, and if anything, suggests that the source of the distraction can be pretty damn random.
Remember the 'talking cars' Chrysler sold for a while? "Your door is ajar. Your door is ajar. Your seatbelt is not fastened. Your seatbelt is not fastened." People thought that was cool, sitting in the car in the showroom. After a month of hearing the car scold them every time they put the key in the ignition before closing the door and putting on the seatbelt, they were in the shop, asking us to disconnect the 'feature'. Same thing happened with HUD. Everyone thought they were Top Gun pilots, and then would come in asking for it to be turned off because it, as one customer said "distracted the *&%# out of them".
I had the honor of speaking with a WW2 fighter pilot (P47 Thunderbolt) who told me that the US military spent a great deal of time and money laying out the various switches, knobs, and levers in the cockpits of the fighters. Engine controls (throttle, mixture, prop pitch, etc) on one side, flight controls (trim knobs, flaps, landing gear, etc) on the other. He said once you got used to where things were, you could just put your hand down and instinctively knew what did what, which was good, because, as he put it, "If I had to look down in combat, I wouldn't be here now."

Originally Posted by livedarklions
If your goal is to build a distraction-free vehicle, I think you're going to have to redesign the driver. Ideally, AI would be the answer, but so far it's worse at sorting out signal from noise than humans.
I agree wholeheartedly. The problem is that too many drivers are disconnected from the task at hand (controlling their vehicle) and the introduction of "hands free driving" just makes that appear to be easier for them. BTW, I believe some manufacturers are being sued by the government for advertising their cars as "hands free", when it clearly states in the owners manuals that the system is a driver ASSIST, and the driver should be in control of the vehicle at all times.
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Old 02-17-23, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
No need to "recruit" you to any claim, since you are just rewording exactly what I posted. I wouldn't think that you can be "recruited" to agree with anyone whom you prefer to use for sniping at and taking potshots.



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Tomato vis--vis tomahtoe. Disagree if you must.

An anecdote about a 25 year old incident does not validate the description of the war zone like scenario for cyclists under a constant threat of near misses and collisions from hordes of drivers continuously distracted by screen gazing, described in the anecdotes of some BF posters.
No, but neither are you justified in straw-manning every mention of distraction and cell phones into rants about the war zone.
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Old 02-17-23, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by phughes
If you want to to get precise about it, the first touch screen used in a car was in the 1986 Buick Riviera. Yes, some models with higher end options began using them over the years. They were used to enable more function for various cabin devices, heat, A/C, etc. Lower model did not use them because there was no need for them. They became commonplace, when the NHTSA began talking about mandating the cameras. Once the mandate was made, they quickly became standard in cars in anticipation of the mandate going into effect. I was very interested in what the NHTSA was doing at the time, and read everything related to their thoughts on backup cameras as they pondered the mandate. This went back a log time. As a result, I kept an eye on what auto manufacturers were doing in response.

I do not buy the intuitiveness of a menu system over tactile controls in a car, for heating and A/C. You can have MORE controls with a touch screen, but when driving I am not sure that is a great thing. I used to drive between 1000 and 3000 miles a week, and did so for about ten years. I knew the controls and could use them without taking my eyes off of the road. I even bough vehicles based on the placement of the controls, preferring a radio to be mounted high so that you could see the display, coupled with actual knobs and buttons. VW was made that way back then. All their controls were laid out so that they were easy to use and recognize by touch. Then they began slowly integrating a screen.

I have rented many cars with touch screens, and logged thousands of miles on cars using them. I became familiar with the ones I commonly rented, and still dislike them, since you cannot feel the control, and therefore have to look at the screen. I will not deny a luxurious feel to a car with a nice big screen, but that doesn't translate into ease of use, and safe use while driving, for me anyway.

Anyway, that is my experience, and background relating to this subject, as well as what is simply my opinion and preference. You have your own preferences. I don't have any more to say on the subject.

It's all good, without any real data on how these things play out in the real world in terms of safety statistics, this really is going to be an assertion-fest. I think that tactile thing really hasn't been much of a factor for a couple of decades, and it's really about which touch screen you want the driver to be attending to while driving, the one on the dash or the one in their pocket. I'm going with the one on the dash, and I don't think non-screen alternatives are realistic at this point.

I realized that the "old man" thing sounded more snide than I meant it, and I am an old guy myself. My point was not well-stated. What I really was referring to is that the generations after us have grown up knowing touch pad controls almost exclusively so that they really do develop something like a tactile sense of where they need to touch them for what. On a really well-designed pad, it really can be as simple as touch the left bottom quadrant to turn up the fan or whatever. I do find myself doing some things on my car's pad without really looking at it.
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Old 02-17-23, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions
It's all good, without any real data on how these things play out in the real world in terms of safety statistics, this really is going to be an assertion-fest. I think that tactile thing really hasn't been much of a factor for a couple of decades, and it's really about which touch screen you want the driver to be attending to while driving, the one on the dash or the one in their pocket. I'm going with the one on the dash, and I don't think non-screen alternatives are realistic at this point.

I realized that the "old man" thing sounded more snide than I meant it, and I am an old guy myself. My point was not well-stated. What I really was referring to is that the generations after us have grown up knowing touch pad controls almost exclusively so that they really do develop something like a tactile sense of where they need to touch them for what. On a really well-designed pad, it really can be as simple as touch the left bottom quadrant to turn up the fan or whatever. I do find myself doing some things on my car's pad without really looking at it.
Lol I didn't really even notice or take offense to the old man comment. I have been a tech geek for a long time so I have nothing against touch screens, just not for controls in my car. Once again, personal preference.
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Old 02-17-23, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul
Not really. It's like target fixation - the person focuses on one thing, and doesn't see anything else that they should be paying attention to. It really doesn't matter if it's the end of the driveway, texting on a phone, or a HUD display.



Remember the 'talking cars' Chrysler sold for a while? "Your door is ajar. Your door is ajar. Your seatbelt is not fastened. Your seatbelt is not fastened." People thought that was cool, sitting in the car in the showroom. After a month of hearing the car scold them every time they put the key in the ignition before closing the door and putting on the seatbelt, they were in the shop, asking us to disconnect the 'feature'. Same thing happened with HUD. Everyone thought they were Top Gun pilots, and then would come in asking for it to be turned off because it, as one customer said "distracted the *&%# out of them".
I had the honor of speaking with a WW2 fighter pilot (P47 Thunderbolt) who told me that the US military spent a great deal of time and money laying out the various switches, knobs, and levers in the cockpits of the fighters. Engine controls (throttle, mixture, prop pitch, etc) on one side, flight controls (trim knobs, flaps, landing gear, etc) on the other. He said once you got used to where things were, you could just put your hand down and instinctively knew what did what, which was good, because, as he put it, "If I had to look down in combat, I wouldn't be here now."



I agree wholeheartedly. The problem is that too many drivers are disconnected from the task at hand (controlling their vehicle) and the introduction of "hands free driving" just makes that appear to be easier for them. BTW, I believe some manufacturers are being sued by the government for advertising their cars as "hands free", when it clearly states in the owners manuals that the system is a driver ASSIST, and the driver should be in control of the vehicle at all times.

I'll be honest, I have absolutely no experience with or interest in HUD. Not that I've ever studied it or anything, but I would expect that the sort of scanning and observing that a pilot does through the windshield is really more dissimilar than similar to what a driver does, and the distraction factor might not be the only reason HUD really doesn't work for the driver. I suspect the visual focus needed to line up the runway on landing has very little to do with that need for avoiding the pedestrian. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't a pilot more likely to get in trouble when what's out the window distracts them from the instruments while with the driver, it's literally the other way around? I would just think it's a lot more likely that anything projected on the windshield of a car would literally obscure the toddler you don't want to hit than it would obscure anything a pilot would need to look out for.


Just want to say I appreciate you and phughes taking the time to discuss our disagreements. I've enjoyed this conversation and appreciate your perspectives on this. BTW, I think the real reason that electronic controls were inevitable is that essentially every major function in the vehicle is subject to some form of computer control to one degree or another, and that increasingly, the mechanical interface is an awkward contrivance to make digital control "feel" like analog.
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Old 02-17-23, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Troul
a federal level standardizing of a vehicles' touch screen might be worth entertaining.
I'd be concerned that it would end up about as based on safety and science as the CPSC bicycle reflector standard. The result might likely be based on what's easiest and most convenient for the carmakers and the personal preferences of the regulators, with actual human factors an afterthought.
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Old 02-17-23, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by RCMoeur
I'd be concerned that it would end up about as based on safety and science as the CPSC bicycle reflector standard. The result might likely be based on what's easiest and most convenient for the carmakers and the personal preferences of the regulators, with actual human factors an afterthought.
Probably the best the govt could do here would be finding ways to facilitate the industry developing standards.

The biggest problem might be in the rapid speed with which this sort of technology improves making a fixation at some point a possible problem.
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