In the midst of the “Facebook revolution,” Americans are awed by any problem that can be solved by technology. That’s why many car companies and safety advocates have turned to technology to reduce distracted driving. But these high-tech control systems aren’t always slam dunks. New York Times Personal Technology Editor Sam Grobart tested some popular options for a video last week before the New York International Auto Show, and came up with some mixed results, suggesting that distracted driving technologies could make driving even more confusing.
Grobart looked at three new models, the Acura ZDX, the Ford Focus, and the Audi A8, which each suffered from unique problems. The Acura model was probably the most similar to what most motorists are used to, relying on a traditional(ish) dashboard filled with high-tech buttons. While familiar, Grobart warned that the volume of buttons could confuse and fluster the driver.
The Ford Focus My Ford Touch system has earned some good press lately for reducing buttons and anticipating driver demands. But based on Grobart’s test drive, Ford’s touch screen controls actually required more attention from the driver, which meant more time looking away from the road. That’s never a safe option.
The Audi A8 combined physical controls with a ultra-smart touch pad which enables the driver to scroll through commands or even write letters in short hand that the computer then recognizes. But even in this case, Grobart warned “I wouldn’t feel very comfortable using any of these systems at highway speeds.”
We’ve written a lot in the past about dangerous distracted driving technologies, always concluding that the best way to prevent distracted driving car accidents is to put the phone down when you’re zooming down the highway. If you’re having trouble setting these ground rules yourself, there are a number of fantastic phone apps that prevent distracted driving. This is the ideal role for technology when it comes to distracted driving: make cell phone use harder, not easier, behind the wheel.
Watch the video here: