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Smart Cars: Too Distracting? 180

Posted by Soulskill
from the yes-it-keeps-beeping-at-me-when-i-try-to-catch-a-quick-nap dept.
Taco Cowboy writes "The vehicles we drive are getting smarter and smarter, as more and more gadgets are being crammed into them. But as those devices creep into the driving experience, they offer the driver an increasing number of displays to monitor. Thus, drivers are more distracted than ever. At the recent 'Connected Car Expo,' which was held in Los Angeles, panelists discussed how these smart car features can impair driving ability. For example, researchers led by Bruce Mehler at MIT revealed that drivers using voice command interfaces to control in-car navigation systems or USB-connected music devices can end up spending longer with their eyes off the road than those using conventional systems. You'd think being able to operate it by voice alone would be beneficial compared to older radio systems. (Tuning an older radio was used as a baseline task in these tests.) But according to Mehler, problems arise when the system needs clarification of what the driver wants, which often happens while they're trying to feed an address into a navigation system."
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Smart Cars: Too Distracting?

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  • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @09:16AM (#45659459) Journal
    One thing auto makers can do is bring back old-school dashboards with tactile buttons laid out in a distinct, logical way. My last two cars (a Peugeot and a Toyota) had this. Once you knew the layout of the dashboard, you could operate anything by feeling your way around, without ever taking your eyes off the road. My current car (a Volvo) has tactile buttons, but they are laid out in a grid, so it's harder to figure out what function it's for. The rental car I had the other day had a touch screen with the crappiest menu structure ever, operating anything on that required close attention and taking your eyes off the road. Not good.
  • by TrekkieGod (627867) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @09:44AM (#45659615) Homepage Journal

    Voice activated systems in newer radio systems would seem to offer an advantage over older car radios of keeping the drivers eyes on the road. (Indeed, tuning an older radio was used as a baseline task in these tests.) But according to Mehler, problems arise when the system needs clarification of what the driver wants

    It's the clarification that is the problem, not that it is voice activated (i.e. user experience).

    I think it's also important to compare apples to apples. Before navigation systems, what did I use to get someplace I don't know where to get to? A map and/or written directions. Sure, I went over it before I ever got in a car to drive, but as I progress in the route, you often have to double check stuff. Then you find yourself glancing over the map and the piece of paper, grabbing everything when you come to a stop sign or red light, etc. Basically, you're just as distracted.

    Navigation is distracting. Navigation now is less distracting. Both in the past and now, if you have a passenger you should let them navigate / be in charge of messing with the gps.

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