High Tech Cars Distract Drivers: Report

If asked, most of us would say we feel safer driving a new vehicle than an old one. But safety on the road also depends on how you interact with your car, and according to a new report many of today’s high-tech rides are distracting drivers at an alarming rate.

According to the UK-based technology publication Which?, roughly 7 in 10 drivers say they’ve been distracted while trying to figure out their advanced in-car tech systems. Such systems include those with touchscreen controls, wheel-mounted buttons (usually controlling radio or Bluetooth-connected devices), and global positioning systems (GPS) for navigation and may include GPS tracking to find where the vehicle is parked.

Which? asked 1,000 of its members to relate how many have been distracted by such systems on the road. In the end, 72 per cent said they’d lost focus while driving because of these kinds of platforms.

If the number is to be believed, it’s a troubling stat. Auto makers have rebounded in recent years largely because of the advancement of these kinds of systems, which allow a driver to remain connected with the outside world while behind the wheel.

In order to get a better picture of the problem, Which? tested a number of different vehicles with advanced in-car controls. Its findings were rather simple: the more expensive the car, the less distracting the controls were. Driving a BMW or Mercedes it was easy to maintain focus on the highway ahead, but this became more difficult in more affordable cars from Ford and Peugeot.

Although none of the evidence is based on highly scientific experimentation, Which? is probably right to suggest that industry-wide cooperation between auto makers could help reduce driver distraction by imposing standards that made it easier to navigate any in-car tech system.

Right now, if one was to drive a brand new Ford Focus and then hop into a BMW 3-series, they’d find similar ideas but completely different interfaces.

“We found the sheer number of ways to carry out simple tasks in the cars was baffling, and crying out to be simplified,” said Richard Headland, Which? Motoring Editor.

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