Our modern world is evolving at a rapid pace. Technology has taken over our lives and the world has changed drastically from the way it was, just a century ago. Every aspect of our lives is somehow connected with technology. Without tech, we cannot even imagine our modern world. While technology has certainly aided us in advancing vastly as a species, it also has its downsides that might lead to some unforeseen circumstances. As car lovers, we are aware of the way cars have evolved in the past few decades. Even cars that were available a decade ago are completely unrecognizable with the automobiles that are out today if you compare the technological advancements.
While certainly, tech plays a major role in the way we drive and even interact with our cars today, is it all sunshine and no rain? Tech has consumed the car industry and the “infotainment” system and the tech often determines if a automobile is worth purchasing or not. With so much emphasis alongside time and money being put into advancing technology, manufacturers seem to have taken things to the next level. Nowadays, the future seems to be all about screens. Buttons are slowly turning obsolete and screens are taking over. To read all about the new tech in cars, you can visit CarIndigo to get a better idea. But with all that, it raises the major question, is too much tech in cars becoming dangerous?
While technology certainly has improved the way we drive automobiles, it also has caused new problems. Earlier, people didn’t really need to take their eyes off the road to adjust a setting in their car. With more and more buttons turning obsolete and with screens taking over, drivers have no choice but to take their eyes off the road and look at the screens while making an adjustment. Even doing something as minute as changing the radio can have devastating consequences. The major issue with modern tech in cars is the fact that they distract the driver more than anything else in the car.
Distractions for a driver can often lead to fatal accidents. NHTSA noted that even if a driver takes off their eyes from the road for two seconds, that could be fatal, especially on a busy road. If you have driven a new automobile, you would know that even the navigation has to be controlled via the screen. If the driver is constantly required to take their eyes off the road to look at the screen, that could result in an accident/collision. Also, automobiles do not restrict you from using the infotainment system and changing anything while the car is being driven. While most cars offer steering wheel controls for the infotainment system, that still can distract the driver. The more you try to engage and interact with the car, the more you would have to take your eyes off the road.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, together with the University of Utah, found that even the most basic functions that require you to use the touchscreen can take drivers for an average of 24 seconds. They even mentioned that some other tasks can take up to 40 seconds on average. That is a huge time to take your eyes off the road, and it would more than double the risk of a collision. Some user interfaces are not too intuitive and require the driver to scroll through an array of menus, lists, and other items to finally find the option that they are looking for. The more time the driver has taken their eyes off the road, the more it increases the risk of an accident.
Most modern cars do offer voice control, in which, you can order the car whatever you want by just activating it and instructing it with your voice. That is basically like having a conversation with your car. But having a conversation with your car, or anyone for that matter, can also prove to be dangerous. Drivers can get distracted even while talking. They might get carried away and focus more on the features than driving. Once again, that is a big no-no.
As newer and better tech are finding their way into modern cars, the need for buttons and dials are being eliminated. Hence, everything needs to be controlled via the screen. Even if you want to change the radio, or change the temperature, or change the volume, you might need to take your eyes off the road to successfully perform the action. Despite that, we are being bombarded with new and complicated features with each passing year. As new cars are implementing more features, the desire to access them also increases. The more features there are, the more they demand your attention. The more attention you pay to these features, the less attention you pay to your driving. Everything you do, everywhere you look, all you will find are distractions and more distractions.
Now, with every new technology that comes out and demands your attention, it also begs the question, are we really progressing with the driving, or are we hindering the progress? Should automakers simplify the way that drivers interact with the car? What could be done to stop the driver from being distracted?
Well, most safety-concerned authorities would certainly agree that manufacturers do need to tone down the new tech. Instead of packing every function into a large touchscreen, some basic functions should be controlled with buttons and dials only. Changing the radio, adjusting the climate or the volume shouldn’t unnecessarily be stacked inside a layer of glass when a simple button or a dial would do the same trick. Not only would it be easier to control, but it would also be less distracting.
Even if the automakers do add a lot of screens, they need to work on their user interfaces and user experience program. Precisely placing functions on areas within easy reach of the driver and where the driver is sure to find them without taking their eyes off the road is a must. No compromises should be made with regard to this. Even doing something as simple as changing the cluttery mess and adjusting the user interface can have a big impact on the way drivers interact with their cars. While we are thankful for all the tech that we now enjoy in our cars, we would also enjoy a safe and worry-free drive.