In-car technology could pose risk to motorists

Using in-car technology such as touchscreens, integrated phones and satnavs can be distracting if used on the move, an investigation by Which? has found.

Which? tested the systems of eight of theUK’s bestselling carmakers and found many features difficult to use while driving. Although some car companies performed very well, other carmakers need to follow their lead and ensure their systems pose as little distraction as possible to motorists.

Which? has created an ‘in-car technology charter’ with a 10-point checklist to make in-car technology systems less distracting which we will be discussing with the government, road safety bodies and carmakers in the coming months. 

Which? Car editor, Richard Headland, says:

“We found that the sheer number of ways to carry out simple tasks in the cars was baffling, and crying out to be simplified.

“We know people want systems in their car that integrate audio, phone, satnav and other functions, but it’s time for the Government to step in and provide some strong guidance to focus carmakers on creating less distracting systems.”

Notes to Editor 

The full article, ‘driven to distraction’ features in the May issue of Which?. For a full copy of the article, please contact Ben Wicks.

The Which? in-car technology charter:

1 – Drivers shouldn’t need to look away from the road for more than two seconds at a time to operate a single device
2 – The fewest possible inputs should be needed to operate devices. Developing better voice-recognition systems is strongly desirable
3 – Key functions that you need to access every day need dedicated buttons (radio station/CD track selection, air circulation and heating controls), rather than being buried in on-screen menu systems
4 – Steering wheel controls should be placed in convenient locations on the front of the wheel
5 – Entering satnav destinations should be disabled when moving
6 – Centre console displays should be placed high up, so the driver doesn’t have to glance down at them. Smaller second screens in the instrument cluster (or a head-up display) are useful for showing key journey information and ‘next turn’ navigation prompts.
7 – Pairing a mobile phone to the car via Bluetooth should only be permitted while stationary
8 – Drivers shouldn’t be able to initiate phone calls while driving, other than via voice control. Accepting a call should also be simple.
9 – While on the move, the car should ‘read out’ SMS messages rather than display text on a screen
10 – Any internet, email, social media and TV/DVD functions should only be accessible when stationary

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