Findings from the DEKRA Road Safety Report 2023
When Technology Overwhelms Drivers Instead of Helping
The ongoing digitization of society has long since reached vehicle cockpits. Whereas just a few years ago physical (rotary) switches and buttons with haptic feedback were used for interaction between driver and vehicle, in modern vehicles touch displays and touch-sensitive buttons predominate. The crucial question in this context: Does this development possibly lead to an increased risk in road traffic? It is not uncommon for controls to be hard to reach if they are hidden somewhere in the menu. Searching and finding them creates distraction – especially in vehicles with which one is not familiar. “This danger definitely exists”, warns DEKRA traffic psychologist Dr. Thomas Wagner. For the DEKRA Road Safety Report 2023 “Technology and People”, which takes a closer look at numerous problem areas in the human-machine interface, the expert organization conducted, among other things, a study with test persons in different cockpits.
- Study with test subjects shows difficulties in modern vehicle cockpits
- Today's operating concepts often require intensive training
- Standardization of safety-relevant operating functions indispensable
To show what challenges modern operating concepts pose in today's vehicles, DEKRA Accident Research conducted a test in which 80 people were confronted with safety-relevant operating tasks in two test vehicles. Two generations of a model with high sales and registration figures in Germany were selected as examples. This ensured that the test subjects were not confronted with two completely different operating philosophies. The two test vehicles had an age difference of ten years (model years 2012 and 2022). The tests were conducted while the vehicle was stationary with the ignition switched on.
Overall, the majority of test subjects were confused by the operating concept of the newer test vehicle. The reaction time of the touch display and the touch-sensitive buttons were complained about, as was the lack of haptic feedback, especially of the sensitive buttons. The learning effort that the new operating concepts require from drivers is considered by the test subjects to be quite high – especially for older people. For drivers who wear reading glasses, the modern operating concept can also pose a safety-relevant problem. Without these glasses they cannot recognize the controls, but with them they can no longer follow traffic because they can see practically nothing at greater distances.