back to article Feds to carmakers: 'Rein in high-tech dashboards'

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued its first-ever guidelines designed to curb driver-distracting dashboards stuffed with electronic gadgets, gimcrackery, and gee-gaws "These guidelines are a major step forward in identifying real solutions to tackle the issue of distracted driving for …

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Re: Darwin

The only problem with that opinion, Jai, is that the idiots generally take out humans who AREN'T twitting, watching the satnav, MTV, whatever, instead of the road. ... and the idiots, wrapped in their air-bag cushioned steel shell usually survive.

When you are driving, DRIVE! It's kind of important. If you don't have a clue as to where you are going ... why are you behind the wheel of a moving vehicle? And why do you think YOUR progress is vastly more important than everybody else on the planet?

The mind boggles ...

Evolution has been proven. We are devolving as a species.

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Stop

2 seconds? TWO SECONDS?

I can't believe no-one else has picked up on that particular "restriction"...

Two seconds is about three times the average braking distance left on our roads. At 30mph (because driving to the conditions is impossible) that's basically 30 yards!

In 30 yards you pass how many houses? How many people? How many pedestrians?

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Re: 2 seconds? TWO SECONDS?

Yes, I thought that too. What does one need to do while driving that would require you to take your eyes off the road for such a long time?

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Anonymous Coward

The problem is not car-tech

It's the stupid meatsacks behind the wheel. Just give them a steering wheel to play with and make believe it's actually connected to something.

In almost all cases, the cars are smarter, better looking, and fitter than the drivers (1,2)

(1) Fiat Multipla excepted

(2) We're about 5 years away from the cars rebelling against their human overlords

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Some cars have an option

to turn off all dashboard lighting at night except for the speedometer (you also get any warning lights, obviously).

This could be standard, and not driver-selectable. Keep the distractions to a minimum. Get rid of the swimming dophins and stuff on stereo displays, too, and eliminate anything that's "touch screen" because you can't operate it by feel.

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Megaphone

Ban touchscreens

I'm definitely with you on this one. When I'm driving along, I can put my indicators, or wipers or lights on, without looking down, because my fingers can *feel* when I'm on the correct control.

Look at the cockpit of a large aircraft, all off the important controls a designed to have a different tactile feel to the ones around you, so a pilot can tell jsut by touch, that his hand is on the control for the flaps, rather than the trim (for example).

If my car had touchscreen based controls for everything, I'd have to take my eyes off the road to check which button I was about to press.

I would have used being able to to change tracks etc. on my car stereo as an example, except some scrote pinched it last night :(

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Re: Ban touchscreens

That's why BMW's Windows(TM) I-drive didn't catch on.

Right click -> preferences -> windscreen options -> wipers -> on -> apply -> OK

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Re: Ban touchscreens

Yes! I don't know what I'm going to do when the time comes to replace one of our cars - it seems every decent model on the market has some horrible control system that's a UI/UX disaster. I'll be damned before I buy a car with BMW's i-drive or that Microsoft Sync crap that Ford's so fond of, or any similar abomination.

There's no substitute for physical controls, in a variety of forms so they're easy to distinguish, with good tactile feedback, in a sensible arrangement.

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Re: Re: Ban touchscreens

Simple answer: Restore an older car. Ground-up restos are spendy, true, but it's still far cheaper than purchasing a new car. And you get to pick the electronics, horsepower (and the rest of the drivetrain, brakes, wheels & etc.), interior, yadda, to suit yourself!

Works for me, anyway :-)

My fleet doesn't have a vehicle younger than 1970[1], and I'd have no issue driving any of them cross-country & back.

[1] With the exception of the Peterbilt, which is a whole 'nuther kettle o'worms ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

"If this causes them to take their eyes off the road more than before the ban, then the bans may make texting more dangerous rather than eliminating it."

This excuse is used in a variety of situations. It's bull sh te! Strict enforcement, in this case life time driving bans and mandatory jail time EVERYTIME will make people think twice! Make offenders punishments visible.

And if they still break to rules and plough into a truck, then they have instrumented their own punishment!

I can hear the cries now! STOP pandering to the weak and enforce our laws effectively!

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Mushroom

Penalties

Raise the penalty for anyone found to have been texting or emailing whilst driving to Reckless Endangerment. Also allow anyone injured in any accident caused by the texter to sue the texter (NOT their insurance company) for compensation. After a few people lose their car the rest may start to think "is this worth the risk?"

Nah, who am I kidding, as with all such things the only real solution is the FINAL solution.

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"...a 2010 study determined that car accidents actually increased a bit after handheld mobile phone talking and texting bans..."

"...drivers have responded to the law ... by hiding their phones from view"

Also, more mobile phones have touchscreens.

I used to be able to type a whole message without looking on my N95 because it had keys. These days you have to look.

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Good - a car is not your second office. If you require your car to be a second office, get a driver.

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Alien

Banning distractions

I think it's a good thing to be investigating some of these. Entering a destination into a GPS while trying to drive is just as dangerous as texting - they're both an unacceptable distraction. I carry my accursed phone around with me all the time, I have to as part of my job. If it beeps or rings and I'm driving, it gets ignored. It's not a difficult skill to learn.

I would like the people noticing these new dangers to also address the plague of speed cameras which cause many drivers to watch their speedometer just as often as the road. I think many of us do that now, I know I do unless the car is on cruise. I find it quite stressful in fact, but the misery inflicted upon drivers after minor offenses is so great that speedo-stare we must.

As an aside, a nice feature to have in cars (which may exist on a car I've not heard of) would be a nice soft voice that announces when your speed passes certain configurable points. I'd like mine to tell me when I exceed 30 or 70. It should be easy to activate from the steering wheel or by voice control (the Jaguar Voice stuff actually works quite well).

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Vic
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Re: Banning distractions

> If it beeps or rings and I'm driving, it gets ignored.

I now drive a ShiteOldVan(tm)[1].

If my phone rings while I'm driving - I'm not going to know anything about it until I stop...

Vic.

[1] It's a 1998 Peugeot Expert. As I told the woman from the insurance company - it has the world's best anti-theft device. No bugger wants it.

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Re: Banning distractions

Grey-import Jap bikes used to have this - a red light flashed on the speedo when you went over 100kph (IIRC)

Fancy German Cars (tm) have a camera that reads the speedlimit signs as you drive past them and warns you on the speed.

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Coat

Neigh!

"Rein in high-tech dashboards"? Frankly, I think I'll stick to a steering wheel - it allows more precise control. I suppose a rein is OK if you only have one horsepower.

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Facepalm

Device-specific guidelines/legislation/rules unnecessary

In Germany at least, the first article of their traffic code (StVO) says that participation in road traffic requires constant attention (and mutual regard). It applies to ALL road users.

Constant attention. What were they thinking when they wrote that!? That makes sense.

Subsequent legislators must've skipped reading that bit and explicitly added explicit prohibitions. E-Jits. A vast horde of nincompoops are actively preoccupied with making roads "safe" by paving them with legislation and regulations. When each has done their bit, they claim to have improved road safety, the almost always declare a great leap forward, and other nincompoops believe it; paying even less attention to the traffic -- because the roads are safe as long as they don't exceed the speed limit, etc.

The onus is on the road user to ensure that traffic gets their constant attention, to avoid distractions and not to be in traffic if they cannot give it that attention.

Widgets of Mass Distraction shouldn't be a selling point in cars. Drivers need information about traffic, presented in a way that is easy to grasp, timely but not distracting. The vast majority of that information is outside the windows of the car.

There should be no need for industry guidelines on what's accessable to the driver of a car. Let alone regulations or laws. If car makers run sheltered workshops where they think it's a good idea to isolate the driver from traffic and to maximise possibility of distraction, then let them build the cars.

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