Touchscreen in the car. Accident risk and fashion trend.

A few days ago an interesting verdict found its way through the media. A Tesla driver came off the road while tapping his touchscreen and collided with several trees. Of the mirror reported about it. The court saw the use of the touchscreen as an administrative offense and punished this with a fine of € 200. In addition, it imposed a one-month driving ban.

Touchscreen in the car. EV prototype from Human Horizons, series planned for 2021
Touchscreen in the car. EV prototype from Human Horizons, series planned for 2021

The judges argued that the driver illegally used an electronic device. Like a smartphone, it also includes a touchscreen. (District court Karlsruhe Az. 1 Rb 36 Ss 832/19) The judgment throws a bad light on Tesla's progressive interior concept of the large displays. Because nothing works without a look and pressure on the screen. But not only that. Because all manufacturers have long been emulating this trend.

Trying to adjust the speed of the windshield wiper.

Apparently it was raining on the day of the accident and the driver was driving a Model 3. Models S and X have a steering column lever (from Mercedes) for the windshield wiper, model 3 does not. The speed of the windshield wiper can be controlled via the touchscreen, it takes 3 clicks. While the driver clicked through the menu items, he came off the road. A failure of the driver? Also. You could possibly add a few lines about adapted speeds in certain traffic situations.

But the problem is deeper.

Cars have long since mutated into button-free environments. The counter-trend to the wonderfully overloaded dashboards of the 90s is manifesting itself in ever larger and more numerous displays. The wave is rolling and will only gradually hit the market. It's not just about Tesla. Volkswagen and the Group's new electric cars are also affected. Testers of the ID3 cautiously criticize the poor usability of basic functions.

If adjusting the interior temperature becomes a problem, and adjusting the windshield wipers is an adventure, then something is going seriously wrong. It's not only about aesthetics or comfort for a long time. It's about road safety. All assistance systems in the world are pointless if you take over a rental car in the middle of the night, the usability of which mutates into an adventure.

The legislature could remedy this.

Touchscreens and digitization in the car go hand in hand. There will be no turning back. The idea that manufacturers should always keep a variant with analogue ads in their portfolio will not work either. The cost watchers in the corporations would suggest immediate termination to anyone who presents them.

The solution word: redundancy.

In aircraft construction, all essential systems are duplicated. Just in case something should fail. At Saab, they indulged this basic idea with passion. The Swedes installed double bulbs in many models so that a brake light would still function properly if one of the bulbs fails.

This is how it should be in the car of the future. Analog switches for all light functions, windshield wipers, hazard warning lights and perhaps the air conditioning should be available - parallel to the operability and configuration via the touchpad. The legislature could prescribe this and demand redundancy. That would require some additional hardware, but the cost would be manageable.

Redundancy as a future issue.

The more vehicles there will only be on the road with touchscreens, the more the user (driver) will be confronted with displays that remain black in the future. Then when the touchpad stops working while driving or has a complete breakdown in the start-up phase. Or when the system initiates an unplanned reboot.

After all, you could still operate the most important functions in analog mode and bring the car to a safe stop on the roadside.

There is not any? Never happens Some drivers of older Tesla models have already had this experience. Failure of the display, important information missing. Fortunately, the manufacturer supplies, which is not a matter of course, replacements on fair terms.

Black screens aren't a thing of any particular brand or age either. Users who are on the road with current vehicles from a southern German premium brand are increasingly reporting this problem.

Some redundancy would feel reassuring under these circumstances.

17 thoughts on "Touchscreen in the car. Accident risk and fashion trend."

  • While reading I had to think of my Jaguar, where the seat heating was only possible via touchscreen. Cumbersome and stupid. At the end of the day, a button is faster and more tactile than a smooth and unsanitary glass surface - on which you cannot see anything in the light, and with convertibles this is an eternal evil. Today I would consider a mixture of over-head display, control levers and switches and audio / navigation via touchscreen to be ideal. In any case, time savings are not possible through nested menus. Voice control only makes sense if all manufacturers use the same standard in German and English. Manufacturer-specific vocabulary is useless.

    Just because it's digital doesn't mean that digital is the safer, faster or more sensible solution. In most cases, digitization makes no sense here either.

  • Windshield wipers - legislation - late bloomers

    Is it possible that all these years the legislature has dealt with new emission standards, toll fantasies and scrapping bonuses and completely forgot about the windshield wiper?

    How else is it possible for a car to be approved if the operation and use of the wiper constitute an administrative offense?

    Possibly even a criminal offense if operation and use result in negligent homicide?

    Even today there are cars that can be registered without (!) Windshield wipers. The panes just have to be small enough and the car open. Then, like 100 years ago, with fogged up aviator goggles you can step on the gas while flying blind ...

    The interval switch actually did not come until 1969. Ford cheated the inventor (patent 1964) and was the first automobile manufacturer to realize it. The fate of the inventor is filmed (Flash of Genius).

    For many years, windshield wipers were only hand-operated. Before their electric drive became standard, there were mechanical couplings to various rotating components. The wiper speed was therefore dependent on the engine speed or the driving speed. If you wanted more wiper power, you had to drive faster - in the rain of all things.

    The windshield wiper that we know today, whose function, use and operation has become so natural to us, is actually a late bloomer in the history of the automobile.

    But 1969 was already a good half century ago. It is fascinating how long authorities and (changing) governments can sleep through a need for regulation worldwide ...

    That is a regulatory backlog of 51 years. What does someone want to tell me about the future who has to and should work through 51 years so that you can use a windscreen wiper in the 21st century without committing a criminal offense? The whole thing is pretty absurd, isn't it?

  • The legislator is required!
    Mobile phone at the ear, programming the navigation system while driving, using the touchscreen while driving: all activities that distract from safe driving = danger to the life and limb of the passengers. Doesn't work at all.
    Today's observation shows that anyone who relies on common sense when driving is walking on very thin ice ...
    Quote:… a car should remain a car and not a “game console” or “mobile cinema”.
    Full approval.

  • I wonder who actually approves such vehicles ?! And according to which criteria is it checked? The manufacturers are certainly responsible here, but the legislature bears them.
    The basic and safety functions must be able to be operated intuitively by the driver at any time, even with a black display.
    It's insane that all kinds of helpers are packed into a car to increase safety and then something like that.

  • Which Kenwood device is it? On mine from 2012, the buttons are so tiny due to the large touchscreen that they can hardly be operated in the dark while driving.

  • Voice control (@ StF),

    good point in every way ...

    If you have a good voice you can keep your hands on the wheel, but not everyone is comfortable talking to dead objects. All right.

    To make matters worse, the dead object can be difficult or misunderstood for a variety of reasons.

    You have a cold, you are on the phone, the radio is on or (God forbid) you are even talking to flesh and blood passengers - for example about rain and windshield wipers ...

    Conversing with a dead object is one thing. To discuss with a dead object whether it has now misunderstood something, done what exactly, why and why is a different one.

    And this discussion would even be legally relevant. It would have to be recorded so that either the manufacturer or the user on the other side could prove who is responsible for an undesired incident / accident.

    Alleluia. I don't even know who of the two (touchscreen or voice control) is Satan and who is the devil. But I know that there was actually an analog Saab with a (performance-enhancing holy) water injection. This is technology that still fascinates me today.

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  • But this is often only housed on the screen in the deepest submenus

  • The standard alternative to flying blind through display distraction is voice control for the telephone and infotainment. You have to find out in each individual case whether this is available in the respective models and how reliably it works. In any case, there should be one in the Tesla Model 3, I heard.

    For example, the manufacturer could block operation of the touchscreen while driving if there is voice control. I know something similar from Toyota sat navs, for example, which can only be operated when the vehicle is stationary, even if there is no voice control.

    The Bluetooth connection and operation of the cell phone in my father's Mitsubishi ASX are also extremely consistent in this regard. It only works via a voice control module. Nothing works with buttons, displays, touches or gestures.

    You just have to get involved with talking to your car (wanting to talk), someone probably doesn't want to do that, or has not read the operating instructions that far.

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  • Thank you for taking up this topic. A few weeks ago I read an article in the “WELT”, according to which the author could only switch off the lane departure warning of a Golf VIII in deep branches of the menu. He had to brake hard, otherwise an accident would have threatened on an unmarked narrow street because the assistant steered into the middle of the lane.
    Even in our Saab 9.3 I and also in the 9.5 I, operating the radio alone sometimes distracts from the traffic. How nice it was in the old MB 190 (I only came to Saab in 2001) and all the cars driven in front of it, when a red light signaled when turning the tuning button that a traffic radio transmitter was set.
    ME, the legislator is less challenged than the common sense of the driver. It is important to use vehicles whose essential functions can be operated in analogue mode.
    The following functions must be able to be operated by button or switch to ensure safety: lights, windshield wipers, wipe / wash device, radio, ventilation and air conditioning, window lifters, door locks, indicators, gearbox (automatic), ESP shutdown, ignition - this list is certainly not yet complete.
    How much do I love my two Saabs because of the at least partially analog operation ...

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  • I really like the technical progress. Much makes life easier, information more accessible, work and communication easier. Provided that it is used carefully. But I personally also like the analogue life. Meet people, if you can't meet, talk to you on the phone, discover an unknown city without G-Maps, or try a restaurant without looking how many likes it has. And when it comes to driving, I'm very conservative. Get in and drive. No more and no less. Every day I ask myself why I had elaborate sound systems installed in my Sääben - we should really clarify the plural question in the blog. Because after the initial enthusiasm I hardly ever use this one either. The turbo hissing of the 9k, the sonorous humming of the V6 in the 902 convertible, or the pure mechanics of the 901 are the most enjoyable background sounds for me personally when driving. Seems to be hereditary. When I accompanied my mother - a sturdy, car-savvy lady at an advanced age - through car dealerships of several nutritious manufacturers in search of a small SUV, I was able to experience her desperation live. Almost kept her old car. If I hadn't taken her to a Dacia dealership at the end of the day….

    Greetings to the community.

    The Lizi

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  • Good judgment

    And yet I feel sorry for the drivers, buyers and manufacturers. Not with Tesla, but with those who follow a trend that should never have been set.

    Here I see a major failure by legislators and authorities. Everyone knows the malfunction of touchscreens. They are commonplace and natural.

    So natural that younger semesters and the young at heart have adapted their behavior to only use the hands-free function of smartphones. Even in public.

    These unabashed, loud phone calls annoy me twice, because I involuntarily have to listen to 2 people without a break. Awful …

    But it is - to be fair to say - the logical consequence of the dysfunctionality and error rate of touchscreens, smartphones & Co.

    A smartphone is too stupid to be held to the ear and cannot reliably distinguish between the ear and the fingertip. Telephone calls break off, the microphone mutes and so on.

    So you could say that a touchscreen is always good and reliable when it is NOT touched.

    This has long been common knowledge today. And therefore also completely natural for young people (digital natives). From their point of view, their telephone behavior is not naughty, but sensible - a purely pragmatic work-around.

    Anyway. Nobody can say that problems with and through touchscreens were unforeseeable. You are well known. And hiding important functions (such as windshield wipers) in a menu with a click depth X behind unreliable hardware and software is simply not possible.

    Very good article. Manufacturers and politicians way ahead. Nice to read. May he meet as many, relevant and open ears as possible.

    PS
    By the way, I'm just getting out of my 9-5. Unknown route. GPS there and back. Simply put the phone in the cup holder and it was good ...

    If I could wish for anything in the future, it would be cars that have an ergonomically favorable place for a cell phone - regardless of the size of the cell phone.
    In addition, uniform and long-term valid industrial standards for its power supply and coupling to the sound system. What more do you need?

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  • Driving is a lot of fun, determines who you drive a safe car and you have all functions under control.
    Such a screen looks very modern but was built in first for cost reasons.
    I prefer to drive without a screen.

  • Combination of touchscreen and buttons on the navigation system in the 9-3 II from MY 2007

    How true! The article speaks from my soul!

    I also didn't even know that such essential and safety-relevant functions like windshield wipers or similar. can be operated (only) via touchscreen in modern cars. A real madness! The legislature is indeed called upon to do so. Windshield wipers, lights, horns, indicators, hazard warning lights and, in my opinion, the most elementary functions of air conditioning / heating systems, sound systems and navigation systems must be intuitive and “blind” to operate. Voice control often helps with the navigation system.

    The problem is already evident in most of the “simple” newer cars: All of them have their daytime running lights set to automatic - with the fatal result that they are illuminated at the front but not at the rear. In diffuse lighting conditions, they can hardly be seen from behind, which most people do not even know. That bothered me many times, especially on the autobahn, and could also be dangerous.

    The combination of touchscreen, buttons and voice control on the last factory-installed navigation system in the 9-3 (from MY 07) was really brilliant, and in my opinion unmatched. Totally intuitive to use: if you need a quick break (and operation via the steering wheel was difficult, e.g. because it was fully turned), simply turn the button or slap on it and it was over - you didn't even have to look. With the Bluetooth telephone, the phone book was loaded directly into the eSID under the speedometer and was very easy to operate with the steering wheel buttons (by the way, I am getting that installed by Lafrentz for my Combi :-)). The whole thing was nice to look at - of course at Saab - of course.

    When I exchanged my previous convertible (MY 07, configured myself at the time) for the used MY 2018 in 12, it unfortunately had no navigation system. I had a navigation system retrofitted to me in Kiel in 2018, with DAB + radio, which was important to me. Very chic, elegant solution, the original antenna on the convertible has been replaced by a slightly shorter DAB antenna. The navigation system / radio etc. was an Android system with a pure touchscreen. But the waitress really annoyed me and I found her very unsafe. You always had to look at it, I couldn't just turn the volume down quickly, that was only possible via the steering wheel buttons without any submenus (which is sometimes not intuitive, if you hit hard, see above).

    So I chose one from Kenwood, which at least has a few buttons in addition to the touchscreen (on / off, volume, etc.). The people of Kiel have kindly exchanged this for me. Optically totally chic, with a specially made frame. It looks like it's always been there. I am very satisfied - even if the Kenwood in its ease of use, its internal logic, its structure, etc. (of course!) Does not come close to the earlier original Saab navigation system. But it looks great, can be operated with buttons and I have DAB +. For me the best solution. The Bluetooth hands-free system, which can be operated via the steering wheel buttons, will soon be retrofitted here as well. Then that's pretty much perfect - and nothing distracts from the traffic when you operate it.

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  • Completely overloaded and yes, in my opinion, a clear risk of an accident! Belong to the dying species that drives consciously while sitting in the car and doesn't do a thousand other things.

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  • I think a car should remain a car and not a “game console” or “mobile cinema”.

    All important functions should still be INTUITIVE (and quasi “blind”) via switches and buttons.
    A touchscreen can be used for “minor matters”, cameras or all the “media” stuff that is apparently necessary nowadays (is that really always necessary?).

    I also find all these “cinema screens” or screens a la at least 12.9 ″ iPad Pro & Co superfluous and rather distracting.
    A “normal” touchscreen is enough (and in the evening I even appreciate the Saab-typical NightPanel, which SWITCHES OFF or HIDES almost everything).

    Not every technical innovation necessarily has to be better / more sensible. 😉

    It is clear that the manufacturers are interested in huge touchscreens and complete operation via them.
    This reduces their costs massively, they have less to install, software maintenance is easier than hardware maintenance (and you can flaunt "modern" and "innovative"), etc.

    If at some point I should stop driving my current Drömbil, it will surely be really difficult for me to find a new “suitable” car for me, as there are hardly any new cars without these huge “switch screens”. 🙁

    I “love” my classic control panel as it is.
    Everything easily accessible and logical, touchscreen for a few things ... and also “classic” green. 😉
    https://www.bilder-upload.eu/bild-81786c-1597057961.jpg.html

  • At first I thought there would be Tesla bashing, as is common in German media. Hit Tesla ... But no - fairly written. Tesla may have gone a little too far with the M3, but that could be corrected quickly.

    I generally agree with the author. Some buttons as a kind of emergency function should also remain in the future.

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  • It would help a little if the cockpits were a little bit driver-oriented. The very straight screens make it even more difficult

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