Study suggests using touchscreen in cars while driving is dangerous

Most cars sold in India or abroad have come a long way in terms of design or the features and comforts they offer on the inside. A common feature that most of the modern day cars are equipped with is a touchscreen infotainment screens. Most of the car manufacturers have given away with knobs and buttons and have started moving towards a cabin with no real knobs and buttons in it. Even though, it gives the cabin a more upmarket feel, a study has now shown that people using touchscreen while driving a car have a tendency to get distracted.

Hyundai Elantra Touchscreen

The research was conducted by a former British government agency which now runs as an independent test facility. In order to test how badly a touchscreen distracts a driver, the agency had come up with a series of experiments. They had selected 20 people to conduct experiments. Out of these 20 people, 10 were using Android Auto whereas the other were using Apple CarPlay.

The drivers were asked to drive in a simulator for 15 minutes and were asked to use touchscreen to do different tasks like navigation, selecting a song, selecting radio stations and so on. In the second round these drivers were asked to use the voice command feature that is becoming common in modern day cars to do the same things. In third round, drivers were asked not to do anything and simply drive in the simulator.

While driving in the simulator, the research team flashed a red light on the screen that mimics the high beam, pass light or tail light of a car going in front or coming from the opposite direction. Everytime, the red light flashed on the screen, the drivers had to respond by flashing headlights on the simulator. Drivers using the touchscreen took more time to respond than the one using the voice commands. Even though the difference was few seconds, on a highway that can be quite dangerous.

According to this survey, the voice command feature was much more safer than using the touchscreen. According to British car magazine, as more and more cars are equipped with touchscreen, the time taken for adjusting the fan speed takes twice the time and selecting a radio station takes up to 8 times more time than it used to take while using a physical knob or button. This is dangerous as chances of getting into an accident are very high when the driver is distracted.

The Freestyle gets a new 6.5 inch touchscreen system with SYNC 3 interface. Both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will be offered. Ford claims the Freestyle will have the most responsive touch screen user interface.

All these features are made to make things look more premium and futuristic from the inside. Instead of going for a complete knob-less interface, manufacturers should go consider developing the screens with a mix of both buttons and touch inputs so that drivers can concentrate more on driving part than looking on the screen. In coming years, more cars would also be equipped with voice recognition feature which will help drivers stay less distracted on roads.

Via The Economist