test reveals the dangers of touchscreens in cars

Photo / Supplied

An independent test of new car interiors has exposed the risk placed by poorly designed cabins in new cars.

Swedish car magazine Vi Bilägare compared a handful of new models with an older Volvo that predates large touchscreens used by many car makers today.

test reveals the dangers of touchscreens in cars

The magazine used controlled conditions at a private airport to measure how far drivers travelled while attempting to complete basic tasks at highway speed.

“The results speak for themselves,” it said.

“The worst-performing car needs 1400 metres to perform the same tasks for which the best-performing car only needs 300 metres.”

Reporters for the magazine found test drivers took their eyes off the road and were distracted for significantly longer periods while driving cars with touchscreen-based controls for elements such as the stereo and airconditioning.

By contrast, clearly labelled, physical buttons in a 17-year-old Volvo were far easier to use.

Test drivers were asked to familiarise themselves with the cabins of several models before completing four tasks.

The first was to activate the heated seat, increase the temperature by two degrees, and start the defroster.

Next, they needed to turn on the radio and adjust the station to a specific channel.

test reveals the dangers of touchscreens in cars

Drivers were then asked to reset the trip computer, lower the instrument lighting to the lowest level and turn off the centre display.

Those tasks took 10 seconds in the old Volvo. But a new MG with a large touchscreen required the driver’s attention for almost 45 seconds, resulting in it driving much further down the road.

Mercedes and Subaru models took about 20 seconds to complete the tasks, while Volkswagen, Nissan and Hyundai were closer to 25 seconds.

test reveals the dangers of touchscreens in cars

A German court found in 2020 that Tesla’s touchscreen – which is even used to open the glovebox or adjust the direction of airflow from dashboard vents – could be blamed for road crashes.

British research group IAM Roadsmart also found in 2020 that bad touchscreens impaired driver reaction times more than alcohol or cannabis use.

– news.com.au

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