Technology and driving have become more and more intertwined over the years. Developments like self-steering cars, virtual assistants and digital displays were designed to enhance the driver’s experience, keep us safe and make our lives easier. But has it really?
Recent studies done in America showed that in fact, these things may be making us worse drivers, and could lead to accidents instead of preventing them.
The US Department of Transportation found that when drivers must read menus or information from display screens, it could distract them so much from concentrating on the road that it might become dangerous. This can include tapping a digital screen to search for your music playlist, more reading and tapping to find your preferred song and then adjusting the volume all on the screen, for example, which requires the driver to take their eyes off the road.
“Center research has found that even a factor as subtle as the interface’s chosen typeface—whether the text is displayed in one font or another common to automotive manufacturers—can make a quantifiable difference in overall glance demands among male drivers. Interestingly, far weaker effects were observed among women,” the Department said.
“In doing so, the driver is taking his or her eyes off the road, and it is crucial that the display be designed to maximize legibility for rapid, efficient reading,” they continue.
Another feature becoming more frequent in vehicles is self-steering. A study by the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that when drivers had to complete parallel parking, they directed a smaller proportion of their glances toward the parking space and spent less time looking at it when using automation than when not using automation.
“The findings indicate that drivers monitor their surroundings less and redirect their gaze to system displays when using automated steering while parking,” the report says.