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Reblogged:A Non-Regulatory Way to Make Cars Safer

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Regulars here know that I take issue with the way touchscreens are deployed in many (if not most) newer cars.

Granted, they provide a viewer for a back-up cam, cut costs for controls, and allow for greater dashboard functionality through software.

But because much of this software is written poorly and controls are indiscriminately moved to the touchscreen, the result is often a frustrating mess of poorly laid-out controls and nested menus that is a real safety hazard because many simple things drivers used to be able to do by touch, like adjust fan controls, now require them to take their eyes off the road.

In today's nanny state, the first impulse most people will have will be to scream Force manufacturers to have buttons and knobs again! Not only is this an abuse of government, such abuses are at least partially responsible for the current predicament: American manufacturers are required by law to include backup cams.

Since I have long opposed the government regulating every facet of our economy and frequently argue that whatever legitimate functions it wrongly arrogates into regulatory agencies could be done better by watchdog groups and the like, I am pleased to have an example of exactly this, and doubly so because this problem annoys me so much!
[T]he automotive safety organization European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) ... says the controls ought to change in 2026.

"The overuse of touchscreens is an industry-wide problem, with almost every vehicle-maker moving key controls onto central touchscreens, obliging drivers to take their eyes off the road and raising the risk of distraction crashes," said Matthew Avery, Euro NCAP's director of strategic development.
And, much later:
Crash Hall of the IIHS, a non-government safety organization. (Image by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, via Wikimedia Commons, license.)
... Euro NCAP is not insisting on everything being its own button or switch. But the organization wants to see physical controls for turn signals, hazard lights, windshield wipers, the horn, and any SOS features, like the European Union's eCall feature.


Euro NCAP is not a government regulator, so it has no power to mandate carmakers use physical controls for those functions. But a five-star safety score from Euro NCAP is a strong selling point, similar to the (American) Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's coveted Top Safety Pick program here in the US, and it's likely this pressure will be effective. Perhaps someone should start bugging IIHS [the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety --ed] to do the same.

Although some automakers have been dialing back a little on this insanity, non-government watchdogs like the NCAP and the IIHS could help marshal market forces to improve automotive safety more quickly, not to mention help customers who want better options than touchscreens for everything.

-- CAV

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