One of the safety buzzwords in the 21st century automotive lexicon is “distracted driving.” To that end, states are cracking down on handheld cell phone use and texting while driving in an effort to force individuals to pay more attention to their motor vehicle operations.
The problem is, today’s newer passenger vehicles are so “advanced” that their consoles resemble something you might see on the space shuttle. As a result, some of the biggest driver distractions are located a few feet away from them inside their cabins.
Here are five of the most distracting console apps you will find in modern cars and trucks.
1. Satellite radio. Audio entertainment has come a long way from five preset radio buttons and a Scan function. Now, you can purchase satellite radio, which offers literally hundreds of channels for your listening pleasure. Scrolling through all of these options is bound to draw your focus toward what you are hearing and away from what you are seeing on the road in front of you.
2. Global positioning systems. It may sound illogical that a device which ostensibly helps you to get where you’re going makes the journey itself more dangerous. But all of the mapping software and directional commands associated with GPS console devices can often require several seconds of attention at a time. They’re especially more hazardous if the driver is trying to “search” for a restaurant or address and drive at the same time.
3. Web browsers. Yes, the future of computer technology is here, and it works great – provided you don’t damage it in a collision. Some cars now come equipped with 10-inch screens situated above the gearshift, thus allowing the driver to use touch screen commands (or even write words on the screen with their finger) to navigate cyberspace and roadways simultaneously. What could possibly go wrong?
4. Multifunctional controls. Some automakers are trying to “simplify” their consoles by incorporating several functions into a single control. For instance, the jog dial on BMW’s in-dash LCD screen lets you control everything from the heater to the radio station, and a “mouse-like” controller does much the same for Lexus drivers. However, these all-in-one controls force drivers to concentrate on which cabin function they are altering instead of what driving hazards may be approaching.
5. Whiz-bang graphics. Today’s young adults have been brought up on visually stunning animation and intricate graphics. As a result, carmakers are trying to appeal to this key demographic by designing dashboards with video game-like display technology. Which begs the question: if you have to pump up the techno-glitz factor to appeal to the uber-chic sensibilities and limited attention spans of modern drivers, shouldn’t these people not be driving in the first place?