The German Automakers came at this from the correct angle. We need a center screen interface that doesn’t force you to watch the travel of your hand to the screen. We need a controller. Even Drake wrote a song about it! Using just the touch functions of a screen while driving can be as distracting as texting/app-ing while driving. I really hope the following happens:

All vehicles without automatic braking systems, radar guided cruise control, and active lane keep assist need a physical controller that covers navigation of the center screen. A rotary knob and physical shortcut buttons around that unit seems to work wonders! If the vehicle isn’t equipped with a completely active Smart Cruise Control/Driver Assistance System that places it at the very top of the heap for a Stage 1 SAE Autonomous Vehicle rating then it needs a controller.

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Now I completely agree that the screens need to have touch function. The German Automakers made that mistake and are fixing it now. Anything you need to “search” for is best handled through a touch interface. Navigation, vehicle information, interface customization, pretty much all the functions that require many steps, menus, and your attention because you need to “find” what you’re looking for on that screen need a touch interface. Unfortunately, all these things that a touch interface is best for are the worst and most distracting things you can possibly do while driving!

Regardless of whether or not there is a physical controller included with the touch interface, all vehicles need to limit touchscreen functions while driving unless they detect the vehicle is either stopped, all the active Stage 1 SAE Autonomous Vehicle tech is in use, or that there is someone occupying the passenger seat. That means two different display settings: A “full access” display that allows for all center screen functions to be accessed when the driver’s attention can be supplemented, and a “reduced access” display which uses very large and limited icons that are for quick changes.

If we could get center display screens to better match the great things I’m seeing in driver interfaces for the instrument cluster’s display screen and the head-up display then I think we’ll finally be able to keep all our distracted driving to just old fashion makeup application, eating our bowl of cereal, and typing up that report on distracted driving that’s due today. You know, the usual morning drive tasks.

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