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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 01-21-23, 04:24 PM
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JoeyBike
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Touch Screens Are Distracting Drivers. What Are Carmakers Doing To Help?

Believe it or not, auto manufacturers are using larger touch screens to try to get drivers off their phones tiny screens. But the auto engineers suck a it. And drivers must LOOK at the screen all the way until their finger touches the thing unlike physical buttons that drivers can easily memorize and operate without looking away from the road. Some things I didn't know, others are common sense.

I saw a story on the National Evening News (I think) related to this. Eyes off the road for 1.5 seconds causes most drivers to begin drifting in their lane.

NPR - LINK

Everything in my car is a push button. 2003 Camry. Some buttons even have a little "braille" raised bump on them to locate the most common buttons by feel alone. I do have a small digital readout screen very top of the dash that reports fuel information (mileage, average per gallon, how many miles I can go with remaining fuel, time, temp, etc) all controlled by buttons on my steering wheel. And glancing at that display keeps my eyes at the very top of the dashboard, level with my hood. Fidgeting with the sound system would require me to look deeper down the dash slightly. Climate control a bit further down but has a thermostat so it pretty much works without me thinking about it.

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Old 01-21-23, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
Believe it or not, auto manufacturers are using larger touch screens to try to get drivers off their phones tiny screens. But the auto engineers suck a it. And drivers must LOOK at the screen all the way until their finger touches the thing unlike physical buttons that drivers can easily memorize and operate without looking away from the road. Some things I didn't know, others are common sense.

NPR - LINK

Everything in my car is a push button. 2003 Camry. Some buttons even have a little "braille" raised bump on them to locate the most common buttons by feel alone. I do have a small digital readout screen very top of the dash that reports fuel information (mileage, average per gallon, how many miles I can go with remaining fuel, time, temp, etc) all controlled by buttons on my steering wheel. And glancing at that display keeps my eyes at the very top of the dashboard, level with my hood. Fidgeting with the sound system would require me to look deeper down the dash slightly. Climate control a bit further down but has a thermostat so it pretty much works without me thinking about it.
The rush to add large touch screens to replace knobs and switches on dashboards reminds me of a throwaway comment the late Jobst Brandt once made concerning questionable design decisions for new racing bike frames and components. He was talking about structural changes, but the principle is the same:

"A recurring theme is making a part lighter until the death toll becomes prohibitive, then adding a little material where the breakage occurs."

Given how much cheaper touch screens have become to manufacture than mechanisms that use knobs and switches (and how much more expensive it would be to alter, move, add to, or replace those knobs and switches in subsequent models), the death toll is going to get quite high before the danger that touch screens represent is recognized and addressed. And since we've all become screen addicts, maybe people will never accept going back to physical controls.
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Old 01-21-23, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
...since we've all become screen addicts, maybe people will never accept going back to physical controls.
I made it 30 years without owning a car myself until two years ago. I rented them. I never got the same car twice. So i would sit in the parking lot of the rental company and figure out and memorize the few necessities I would need to get out of there safely. Handy to have the rental people right there to help if needed. My point of course is that having the controls memorized is certainly safer than looking around the dash while driving at speed. Over the years it got harder and harder to find/memorize settings until finally it just became impossible without looking at a touch screen now and then. Ive witnessed the entire evolution of that stupidity.
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Old 01-21-23, 05:52 PM
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Infotainment systems is probably the worst features ever allowed to be installed on the newer vehicles. Using smartphones is another. Vehicles should have software which prevents cell phone usage while driving.
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Old 01-21-23, 06:03 PM
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If we can't achieve a cultural shift away from distracted driving, then we need to revamp display screens such that they maximize a driver's time looking at the road. The infotainment stuff should get moved behind the steering wheel, and the things like the car's vitals and odometer should relocate to the center dashboard. Fancier models could also incorporate a HUD on the windshield (already on some cars). It's not a perfect solution, but it would keep the driver's eyes forward.
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Old 01-22-23, 11:06 AM
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I read a book long ago called The Human Factor by Kim Vicente.

It describes how unintuitive technology is and that designers never account for how actual humans think while trying to use them. Instead designers add features just because they can.
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Old 01-22-23, 12:04 PM
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I agree with this. My Civic has a fuel gauge, instant fuel economy gauge, digital speedometer, a tachometer with a glowing outline that changes color depending on the current MPG, and the usual collection of idiot lights. Additionally the radio and GPS are combined into a touchscreen unit that also has a trip computer and a bunch of other things that I don't even remember. Then there is another screen that Honda calls an i-Mid display. Fortunately the radio and phone controls are mounted on the steering wheel in addition to the touchscreen so I can use them without taking my eyes off the road. I found it all very distracting when I got the car 10 years ago and I imagine newer cars are even more sensory overloading probably looking more like airplane cockpits than automobile dashes.
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Old 01-22-23, 12:46 PM
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Remember when cars had window cranks? Door locks where you actually had to insert the key? Steering wheels where the only "button" was in the center, and sounded the horn? A foot operated switch for high and low beam headlights?
Things that were options on cars became so much in demand that very few people would buy the "base model" of anything. Consequently, all those options started to become standard equipment.
People want the latest technology in their cars, although I would say 75% (or better) of them either never learn how to use it, or really couldn't care less about it. I know this, because I was a regional technical specialist for an import manufacturer covering the six New England states for 28 years, and spent a lot of time diagnosing "problems" that I attributed to the "Loose Nut Behind the Wheel" syndrome. Often times, the issue could be solved with "RTFM" (Read The Freakin Manual) - you know, that book in your glovebox that tells you everything you need to know about how things work in your car? Yeah, the one still in the factory shrink-wrap. That's the one.
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Old 01-22-23, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul View Post
...Often times, the issue could be solved with "RTFM" (Read The Freakin Manual) - you know, that book in your glovebox that tells you everything you need to know about how things work in your car? Yeah, the one still in the factory shrink-wrap. That's the one.
I rented a beautiful Cadillac one time (2019) for a long trip (It was my birthday and the car rental company I did all my biz with upgraded me for no extra charge as a "thank you"). First time i had to fill the gas tank I couldn't figure out how to open the hatch. Thought I might have to call 1-800-cad-ilac to ask how to do it but luckily the manual was in a rear door pocket. Now you would figure "How to put fuel in your car" would be somewhere in the first 5 pages, right? Nope, buried on page 260 (of a 300 page manual) was the instructions, and the command to use only PREMIUM fuel in that car ( so much for a free upgrade ).

Wanna know how to put fuel in a Cadillac? Go to the fuel hatch, click the key fob twice to unlock all the doors, then just TOUCH the little door and is swings open on it's own.
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Old 01-22-23, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
I rented a beautiful Cadillac one time (2019) for a long trip (It was my birthday and the car rental company I did all my biz with upgraded me for no extra charge as a "thank you"). First time i had to fill the gas tank I couldn't figure out how to open the hatch. Thought I might have to call 1-800-cad-ilac to ask how to do it but luckily the manual was in a rear door pocket. Now you would figure "How to put fuel in your car" would be somewhere in the first 5 pages, right? Nope, buried on page 260 (of a 300 page manual) was the instructions, and the command to use only PREMIUM fuel in that car ( so much for a free upgrade ).

Wanna know how to put fuel in a Cadillac? Go to the fuel hatch, click the key fob twice to unlock all the doors, then just TOUCH the little door and is swings open on it's own.
And you know that in every Cadillac dealer shop, some tech gets a ticket on a car that got towed in, out of gas, with "Customer states fuel door will not open".

I can't tell you how many times I saw "rear doors will not open from inside", and had to show the owners how to flip the child safety lock lever on the door.
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Old 01-22-23, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
First time i had to fill the gas tank I couldn't figure out how to open the hatch.
Had the same problem with a recent rental. Already had the gas pump in my hand before I realized the problem. Ultimately had to cancel the sale, put the pump back,and google the instructions.
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Old 01-22-23, 07:50 PM
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I owned and flew a 1946 Taylorcraft bv12d. It had no electric and needed to be hand propped. The gas gauge was a coat hanger stuck into a cork. The cork was in the fuel tank and the wire stuck through the fuel cap. As the cork went down the exposed wire got shorter. Pretty simple to mark the wire. Worked well. But I have to say I was pretty distracted watching that wire when flying into a headwind.

Mike
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Old 01-22-23, 08:31 PM
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touchscreens are one of many issues with modern cars related to distracted driving.
seeing a can of "fix-a-flat" in place of a spare a long time ago was one of many downward spirals with society.

We'd be all more likely to see manual transmissions become the majority than having touchscreens go away. It's here to stay ( $$$$ )
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Old 01-23-23, 07:18 AM
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I don't have much confidence that any rate of death or injury is going to produce serious regulation in this area. Scary as the prospect may be, I see greater vehicle autonomy as the best hope of mitigating the epidemic of distracted driving.
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Old 01-24-23, 06:53 AM
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Just picked up a new Mazda (CX-5). No touch screen. It has a screen, but the screen controls are all knobs/dials with "clicks" when pushed/turned.

Still too complicated and distracting, to my mind - I just want to adjust the heat or A/C and work the radio. But a (small) step.

It's really up to me to resist the other distracting bells and whistles (while driving). Set it up while in my driveway, then don't fool with it while driving.

(He!!, I can't even drive well when I'm talking on the phone hands-free - even that is too distracting to me. So, I don't do it. Whatever the call is, it can wait. Yes, I'm old.)
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Old 01-24-23, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by noimagination View Post
...

(He!!, I can't even drive well when I'm talking on the phone hands-free - even that is too distracting to me. So, I don't do it. Whatever the call is, it can wait. Yes, I'm old.)
Hands-free telephone conversations still require your full attention and that's the distraction. Having an intense conversation with a passenger takes your attention from driving too but your passenger compensates for that by inherently looking at traffic too.

Listening to the radio or music does not demand your participation.
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Old 01-24-23, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha View Post
I don't have much confidence that any rate of death or injury is going to produce serious regulation in this area. Scary as the prospect may be, I see greater vehicle autonomy as the best hope of mitigating the epidemic of distracted driving.
It doesn't. How many decades of road fatalities at the rate they are now has made any serious policy changes for improved road safety? Even growing pedestrian and cyclist advocacy groups are labelled as special-interest as they are up against the automobile-lobby.

Last year at this time, one commenter criticized my thread asking what it had to do with bicycle advocacy. This thread supports my thread from last year at a different angle. Bicycle and road safety has everything to do with driver behaviour.

A lot of people are critical of self-driving cars and raise a stink when a road test kills someone. Not shrugging that off but in comparision to manually driven cars, self-driving cars have to meet impossibly high standards while drivers kill pedestrians everyday.

However, if and when self-driving cars have proven themselves to be only 5% safer than manually driven cars, would they be accepted? Or should we wait until they are 100% safer? And while we wait, pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers will continue to be killed everyday.
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Old 01-24-23, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4 View Post
It doesn't. How many decades of road fatalities at the rate they are now has made any serious policy changes for improved road safety? Even growing pedestrian and cyclist advocacy groups are labelled as special-interest as they are up against the automobile-lobby.

Last year at this time, one commenter criticized my thread asking what it had to do with bicycle advocacy. This thread supports my thread from last year at a different angle. Bicycle and road safety has everything to do with driver behaviour.

A lot of people are critical of self-driving cars and raise a stink when a road test kills someone. Not shrugging that off but in comparision to manually driven cars, self-driving cars have to meet impossibly high standards while drivers kill pedestrians everyday.

However, if and when self-driving cars have proven themselves to be only 5% safer than manually driven cars, would they be accepted? Or should we wait until they are 100% safer? And while we wait, pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers will continue to be killed everyday.
Good question. I think this is in the realm of behavioral economics, rather than rational, risk-based, decision making. On the whole, people seem to prefer being killed by other people than by automata.
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Old 01-24-23, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4 View Post
However, if and when self-driving cars have proven themselves to be only 5% safer than manually driven cars, would they be accepted? Or should we wait until they are 100% safer? And while we wait, pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers will continue to be killed everyday.
until full liability & responsibility can be placed on self-driving & not holding the human owner accountable, is when it could be accepted.
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Old 01-24-23, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4 View Post
A lot of people are critical of self-driving cars and raise a stink when a road test kills someone. Not shrugging that off but in comparision to manually driven cars, self-driving cars have to meet impossibly high standards while drivers kill pedestrians everyday.
Care to specify what " impossibly high standards" self-driving cars are expected to meet, what organization set these "impossibly high standards", and which "impossibly high standards" do you think should be eliminated?
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Old 01-24-23, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4 View Post
A lot of people are critical of self-driving cars and raise a stink when a road test kills someone. Not shrugging that off but in comparision to manually driven cars, self-driving cars have to meet impossibly high standards while drivers kill pedestrians everyday.

However, if and when self-driving cars have proven themselves to be only 5% safer than manually driven cars, would they be accepted? Or should we wait until they are 100% safer? And while we wait, pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers will continue to be killed everyday.
Y'know, this "impossibly high standards" didn't make sense the first time you argued it--all you have is an assertion that once they actually do get better than human drivers, they won't be accepted. Citation needed. It's totally pointless speculation until there's any evidence that autonomous cars will be as good or better. Right now, they suck, and manufacturer after manufacturer is giving up on their development.
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Old 01-24-23, 04:57 PM
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To me the brightness of that huge laptop sized LCD in the middle of the dashboard shocks the eyes and makes night time driving compromised. This is so obvious to me and it makes me not want to drive my Hyundai Azera at night. There is a way to turn the bright display off but the button is buried in multiple sub-menus. When fussing with these sub-menus while driving Im swerving all over the road.
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Old 01-24-23, 05:41 PM
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On any given day about half the drivers on the freeway are not paying any attention to what is happening around them and I see them drifting out of the lane. ALL of them are looking at their smartphone and not the display. It is the rise of smartphones that has increased auto accidents by more than 15%. In New York city where they track all collisions between motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians, the leading cause is inattentive drivers and drivers driving too fast for conditions. It has nothing to do with the display in the vehicles.

My truck has a large LCD display and it take longer to make certain changes, like the which vents are open than the old slider controls or buttons, but I am disciplined enough to not make changes while in the middle of a platoon of cars.

Cars have had hands free capabilities for more than a decade and a hands-free earbud and mic sell for $15 but seldom do people bother to use them. They think that they are different and special and can drive while creating or reading text messages (or putting on makeup or eating a hamburger or drinking a hot or cold beverage.

But lets blame everyone or anyone else for the stupidity of so many people. The problem is that we do not enforce existing laws when they are in place.
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Old 01-24-23, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Troul View Post
until full liability & responsibility can be placed on self-driving & not holding the human owner accountable, is when it could be accepted.
Sure it's appropriate to place high standards on self-driving cars but in the meantime, we don't even place liability & responsibility on the drivers of human-driven cars when they run over pedestrians and cyclists.
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Old 01-24-23, 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4 View Post
Sure it's appropriate to place high standards on self-driving cars but in the meantime, we don't even place liability & responsibility on the drivers of human-driven cars when they run over pedestrians and cyclists.
So what do you propose? My favorite is the spike sticking up from the center of the steering wheel, but there's been resistance to that suggestion historically.
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