Built-in electronic infotainment systems in new vehicles

I’d like to talk to people who have driven or own new model cars and trucks equipped with sophisticated electronic systems for phoning, entertainment, navigation, etc. I’d like to hear your experiences in learning to operate these devices while driving. Are they easy or hard to use? Are they safe? I’m a journalist and may write something about this, so if you’re willing please let me know how to get in touch with you. Thanks, Myron Levin, myron.levin@fairwarning.org

A massive distraction AND an ocsolescence nightmare in five years.
Unless you use all the functions every day, you’re not going to remember the menu ques and have to do a lot of fishing.

  • OR - reading of the user manual.
    BOTH of which cannot be done while driving, PERIOD.

But you can bet on just how many people will do this anyway with the twisted justification that… “it came with the car, so it must be intended to be done while driving.”

Texting while driving is only the tip of the iceberg.

Then there’s the repair and replacement OBSOLESCENCE nightmare five years down the road.
Possibly just two years away. Obtaining service for malfunctioning units will be a crap-shoot IF you can find anyone who knows any thing at all , even at the dealer. Used cars with no user manual will cause huge headaches as well. Then when the car reaches ten years old, not old as cars go but ancient to electronics, those fancy shmancy do-dads will be near un-useable forever more. Just dead weight.

The built in touch screen GPS/radio controls in my TL aren’t a distraction. As with any knob or widget, if you stare at it while you’re driving, you’re going to get in trouble. As with any knob or widget, responsible use by the driver is assumed - else your piece should also target radios, speedometers, and attractive passengers, as paying too much attention to any of these can cause you to hit a tree.

BTW, at least in Acuras, all of the functionality of the navigation system and radio (and climate control, and a few other things) are voice-activated as well as operable by buttons/touch screen. I would argue it’s less of a distraction to say “radio XM preset 5” than it is to spin the radio dial in a conventional setup.

It depends upon who is trying to navigate the menu to the device. My old man can’t figure out how to add movies to his NetFlixs quque so I guess trying to work the BMW I-Drive control would be distracting to him. At first the BMW controller did carry a lable of difficult to use but some years of refinment has placed it into the easy to use catagorie.

Heck, a hot fudge sundae from Mcdonalds can be a distraction, the item does not have to be technical.

I have a 2006 Chrysler with a NAV system. My somewhat older vehicle doesn’t have a touch screen, but navigating the menus and using it is pretty easy for me. However, I work in IT, and if I can’t figure it out, I should probably find another line of work. I’ve always felt that the key to using and understanding technology is to not be intimidated by it. Plunge in and it will eventually make sense, then you’ll be using it like a pro in no time. Just like learning any new skill or anything in life. Of course a lot depends on the skill and creative vision of the folks that designed the user interface of the tech. Some things are decidedly NOT user-friendly.

As far as all the toys on vehicles these days, certainly it contributes to distracted driving. But it all depends on the person and the kind of day you’re having too. Some people have their hands full just keeping their car in their own lane. Others multitask much better. It seems like some older adults get set in their ways and have very reactionary attitudes to anything new. I kind of think that when you reach a certain age, there’s enough internal distraction from all the accumulated stuff in your head, leaving less available processing power for the outside world.

I doubt the problem in this case is the technology, but the attitude of the person. Some people are genuinely impaired with age, some folks wouldn’t notice a black cat on a white sofa at 20, and some are still sharp as they ever were at 80+ I’ve noticed that the ones that have had high-level jobs where they’ve had to use their minds every day, such as engineers, techs, executives, seem to be the ones that stay pretty sharp in their elder years.