Touch Screens and Driving Safety - Questions

Leef

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I wanted to get some thoughts on where forum members are with the issue of safety involving touch screens. At the outset, however, I want to take a paragraph to mention where I am coming from (I'm definitely not here to proselytize - I'm just asking for ideas).

My new 18 Si is a replacement for a car that was totaled in a high-speed head-on collision - an accident that was not my fault and over which I had absolutely no "outs" when the other vehicle left it's lane (single lane each way, guard rail at the fog line on a curving bridge ramp). That car I was driving in turn was a replacement for another vehicle that got totaled - again not my fault - when I was driving on a country road at night and had to stop suddenly for wildlife. The driver behind me was tailing too close and failed to stop when I had to, plowing into me so hard that the short travel of my head against a well-adjusted cushion headrest still gave me a concussion. Finally, last week - just a day before I was to pick up my brand new Civic - the car I was in was slammed into from behind by a distracted driver while we were waiting for traffic to clear at a light (we were making a legal left turn). So palpable was that recent memory that I was nervous at the thought of driving my new car off the dealer's lot the next day. Enough has happened to me on the road to instill in me a strong sense that I only own this car through day-to-day grace, and fate can have its say on any drive at any moment. These things happen in a shocking instant - and never when you think they might.

I look at those situations - some involving distracted drivers and others making me very thankful I myself was not distracted - and really have to scratch my head about how to integrate the built-in distractions of touch screens in a comprehensive approach to driving safety. Don't get me wrong - I'm a first class geek, having hacked my Honda head unit and gotten it to converse with my Android, and iPod and a thumb drive. I'm also a pilot where a good portion of many flights is focused on glass panel displays - certainly when flying in weather (interestingly, distractions in flying can be the opposite of those in driving, where focus on the instruments often takes precedence over outside visual clues in which the latter can be distractions).

So I am wondering what other drivers are doing as far as approaching their own distractions. My last car was a Mini that had a screen which was not touch activated but rather used a center console mounted joy stick that moved along 3 axes. In a way, I think that was safer. I memorized twist, push and click patterns for anything I might want to activate and even memorized the toggle switches (my formative pilot training was learning the cockpit well enough to navigate its switches and dials in the blind).

What I'm doing:

1) Android Auto effectively allows me to shelve my phone during a drive. I see no need for a phone mount, and in fact I don't even snake the USB cord through the hole in the dash; I plug it the phone in and place it on the hidden dash panel out of sight because everything that is necessary is through Android Auto. Similarly, the iPod sits back there as well (plugged into the power outlet via a USB insert) and I've never had to pull that out during a drive or really ever - except to take inside when I want to sync new tunes with my iTunes library.

2) I'm training myself to memorize by touch the steering wheel controls - it seems that much of what is on the touch screen can also be navigated that way, especially on the speedometer display (eg switch from iPod to Sirius XM and similarly with navigation) - but I'm still learning what is possible.

3) I've programmed Tasker to turn my phone into a hot spot when the car's Bluetooth connects to it - so I literally plug it in and forget it.

Ultimately, I'd like to get to the point where I never touch the screen while driving. Thoughts? I'd be especially interested in input from those involved in traffic safety (eg. troopers, etc) who might be in the forum.





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Lazylahma

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I completely agree, distracted driving is a very dangerous thing not only for the driver but anyone else on the road.

I have been wondering why people can't use their cellphone while driving but its perfectally acceptable to implant a larger touchscreen tablet in the drivers face.

I bought the base model sport so no touchscreen for me, i would say you have taken all the right steps to making sure your safe and aware on the road.

Not sure what kind of phone you have but i find the "ok googke" command works wonders whether i have to place a phone call or want to turn on music i just tell the phone what to do and then my call or music will play over the car stereo(do have to push the select button for phone calls but that has become an easy no look button)

Thank you for wanting to be a safer driver, and i really hope your string of bad luck with cars can take a break for your nice new si
 

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Good to know. I definitely try not to focus on the screens in the car. Unfortunately, it’s not just the imbedded screens that are a problem.

While driving last night, a truck was driving a little slower and gently weaving in the lane. I pull up next to it and sure enough, the driver is on his phone. As I was waiting at the light to get on to the highway on ramp, the two drivers next to me were on their phones. On the highway, there was another guy on the phone as he’s going 70mph. Scary.
 

Ataricade

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I completely agree, distracted driving is a very dangerous thing

Not sure what kind of phone you have but i find the "ok google" command works wonders whether i have to place a phone call or want to turn on music i just tell the phone what to do and then my call or music will play over the car stereo(do have to push the select button for phone calls but that has become an easy no look button)
Just adding that CarPlay does the same thing just as well.
 

Lazylahma

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Just adding that CarPlay does the same thing just as well.
Yes, but i have the hatchback sport with a base radio so no car play for me, that is the one function from the touchscreen that i wish i had
 

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Foreword: sorry for the long post. TL;DR: Steering wheel controls, auto everything and active safety aids FTW.

The whole issue of having touchscreens in our cars for most functions is easily offset by a comprehensive and easily-navigated set of buttons on the steering wheel. While most have become accustomed to adjusting their cruise control and audio settings via the steering wheel, there really is little else that needs adjusting while in motion. Auto climate takes care of the changing weather conditions and... Well that's it.

Voice recognition is good enough to switch between songs and call whoever needs to be called. Even texting while driving by dictating the message to voice recognition software is not that uncommon. That same voice will read the answer out loud... It really has become a lot like Michael Knight talking to K.I.T.T. :cool:

Thing is, while a short while ago all cars used to have similar buttons for all controls, now each car is that little bit different. So an hour with the owner's manual is essential to familiarize with all the possibilities a new car offers. It shoud be smooth sailing after that...

PS! Honda's set of "Sensing" driver's aids (standard on all but the very lowest equipement grade here in the EU) also go a long way towards making sure that you do not end up being the one tearing into a suddenly stopped car in front of you. Sure, it's unneccessarily obtrusive at times (I always manage to coax the system into braking while cutting close to a vehichle turning away in front of me) but adjusting the driving style to a few degrees less agressive in certain situations is IMHO a small price to pay for such a comprehensive set of active safety measures.
 

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As counterpoint...

I have had in dash screens since 2002. My commute to work has involved stop and go traffic between 10 minutes and 2.5 hours over that time.

Have driven with smartphones mounted on the dash for over a decade. Watch videos, listen to audiobooks, jumping through playlists...

Always keep eyes on road. Video is for passengers. Peripheral view of screens is fine. Can always rewind or watch again later if needed.
 

BarracksSi

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Foreword: sorry for the long post. TL;DR: Steering wheel controls, auto everything and active safety aids FTW.
+1000

What do I do to reduce distractions in my car? If I don't need the map for navigation or traffic, I switch the touchscreen to the clock. I also don't use the MPG meter in the instrument cluster -- I either leave it on the boost gauge or the compass.

In my EP3, which didn't have a touchscreen, I plugged the phone into an AUX adapter, stuck it upside-down in a cupholder, and ran everything by voice commands. I learned to trust the navigation's directions, and I'd argue that it helped me pay closer attention to the road, too.

Speaking of which, I'm driving to Delaware tomorrow, and I think I'll try leaving the map offscreen and just use voice feedback for directions. I've been using the nav without voice feedback lately, but I've begun to wonder if that's a good idea since it requires me to read the main screen more frequently.

The whole issue of having touchscreens in our cars for most functions is easily offset by a comprehensive and easily-navigated set of buttons on the steering wheel. While most have become accustomed to adjusting their cruise control and audio settings via the steering wheel, there really is little else that needs adjusting while in motion. Auto climate takes care of the changing weather conditions and... Well that's it.
I'm afraid of Tesla reducing the number of steering wheel controls too much, though.

The reviews about the Model 3 that I've read barely touch (heh) on what it's like to live with the huge touchscreen and two multifunction steering wheel controls. Yeah, it accelerates fine, steers fine, and has autopilot, big whoop, we've had that with the Model S for, what, at least five years now.

But the Model 3's iPad Pro-Plus touchscreen that always changes, and the little steering wheel-mounted scroll wheels that also change depending on context -- which means you have to look at the screen to know what they'll control -- is the biggest change that you'll deal with every day you drive the car.

I'm fine with the number of controls I have on my Civic. I'm also satisfied that they pretty much cause the same action every time they get pressed -- the voice button always starts a voice command, the cruise control cancel button always cancels cruise control, etc. When I end up behind a diesel truck and want to change the vent system to recirculate mode right away, the button is right there on the dash, and it only needs one tap. I don't want to hunt around a touchscreen and go into a submenu for a quick action like that.
 

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The truth is these automated functions are just going to make people lazy and less attentive. Just like automatics make you less attentive then a manual. These systems are so not ready for prime time and won't ever be for anyone currently alive. It boggles my mind people trust Teslas to drive for long periods on their own when they can't even react to stationary objects. The radar on all of the current systems is worse then letting a "legally" blind person drive you around. Morons.

When a lifetime from now they get the tech right there still won't be money for the road infrastructure to make it reliable. this is no different than the dream of the flying car from the 60's.
 

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The truth is these automated functions are just going to make people lazy and less attentive.
I'm mixed on this. I partially agree, because I don't have to be constantly judging my gap to the car ahead of me when I use the adaptive cruise.

But because I don't have to focus so intently on the car ahead of me all the time, I can keep better tabs on the cars to the left and right, in neighboring lanes and behind me. It's less likely now that someone would surprise me from the side.
 

johnc_22

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Electronic nannies are no excuse for not giving 100% of your attention to driving. Certainly relying on them so you can do something else for a few seconds could be fatal for you or someone else. Some day autonomous systems will be ubiquitous but we're a probably a decade away.

Georgia just passed a "distracted driver" law, where it will be illegal for a driver to operate a phone. It goes into effect soon so it will be interesting to see how enforcement goes.

My previous two cars were a BMW and an Audi. Both had (at the time) modern navigation systems with centrally mounted dial/button controllers behind the shifter. In both cases, the infotainment features could be manipulated with haptic feedback so moving through menus and making selections could be done much more safely than having to stare at a screen, even if for a second or two, to land one's finger in exactly the right spot (in a moving vehicle where your hand is not that steady). While yes, there are some steering wheel features in the Civic X that are useful, I feel like the touchscreen is just a horrible idea. It really lets down a really otherwise outstanding vehicle.

If using a cellphone while you're driving is illegal, how is using a tablet mounted on the dash legal?
 

Lazylahma

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Electronic nannies are no excuse for not giving 100% of your attention to driving. Certainly relying on them so you can do something else for a few seconds could be fatal for you or someone else. Some day autonomous systems will be ubiquitous but we're a probably a decade away.

Georgia just passed a "distracted driver" law, where it will be illegal for a driver to operate a phone. It goes into effect soon so it will be interesting to see how enforcement goes.

My previous two cars were a BMW and an Audi. Both had (at the time) modern navigation systems with centrally mounted dial/button controllers behind the shifter. In both cases, the infotainment features could be manipulated with haptic feedback so moving through menus and making selections could be done much more safely than having to stare at a screen, even if for a second or two, to land one's finger in exactly the right spot (in a moving vehicle where your hand is not that steady). While yes, there are some steering wheel features in the Civic X that are useful, I feel like the touchscreen is just a horrible idea. It really lets down a really otherwise outstanding vehicle.

If using a cellphone while you're driving is illegal, how is using a tablet mounted on the dash legal?
I 100% agree, I've been wondering how they can be legal for awhile now. I had to laugh at the dealer when he showed me my sport hatch he stated you may not like it because it dosent have any tech inside. Hell even the sport radio is more tech then I've ever had in a car
 
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Leef

Leef

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I'm mixed on this. I partially agree, because I don't have to be constantly judging my gap to the car ahead of me when I use the adaptive cruise.

But because I don't have to focus so intently on the car ahead of me all the time, I can keep better tabs on the cars to the left and right, in neighboring lanes and behind me. It's less likely now that someone would surprise me from the side.
I respect that, but I don't know how I'd feel about adaptive cruise if I had it. I would likely regard it as a back-up system to my eyes and judgement. One of the things I like about Honda is that they offer the Civic Si - a driver's car in an age where the first steps are being made (led by Tesla) toward making the driver obsolete. It won't brake or swerve for me. While it gives more raw data than I've ever had before (the side view camera is something new), I'm the one who interprets the information it gives me, makes the command decisions, and controls the vehicle. Scanning and navigating multiple targets on the road around me - to me at least - is all part of the challenge and fun of driving. :)
 

chestypuller

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i like all the features but see how they could be distracting forsure.
 

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