Unsafe car features


#1

Okay, for years I’ve ranted about the design of the controls in car’s interiors, as most of you know. It’s been my claim that modern controls require taking one’s eyes off the road to watch the number as one “scans” the radio stations, and such like that. In the old days we could watch the road while we turned the knob.

Well, today I was slammed in the rear end while stopped at a red light by a young driver that said he was “setting my radio”. No injuries, damage not serious. Thank God it was my car that got hit and not somebody’s child.

I’d love to take all the idiot kids designing these controls and smack them up the side of the head.
Thanks for listening.


#2

Wow. Sorry to hear of it, and glad you’re OK.

Any control in a car is potentially unsage when it diverts the driver’s attention away from the job at hand, which is to DTCS. (Drive The Car Stupid.) I don’t car when the car was made. Even the old fashioned radios in cars, AM only with a knob and pushbuttons, have the ability to divert the driver’s attention from the road.


#3

Like Dr. Rocket, I am also very sorry to hear of my friend, TSMB’s, car accident today.

And, I agree that all too many people are distracted from the task at hand by…tuning the radio, talking on a cell phone, eating a sandwich, or–worst of all-texting while driving.
However, I do have to point out that Dr. Rocket is correct about the controls on older cars also having the ability to distract drivers from paying attention to the road.

In addition to the old push-button/knob radios, let us not forget that the controls on older cars were, in many cases, scattered around the dashboard, which necessitated a “hunt” for them.

Even the instruments on older cars could be problematic. As one example, I can tell you that my first assignment as a child passenger in my father’s '55 Plymouth was to monitor the oil pressure gauge, which sat in front of the passenger. Because I was the oil pressure gauge monitor for my father, he didn’t have to worry about trying to see a gauge that sat several feet to the right of the driver, but drivers who didn’t have a passenger to monitor their '55 Plymouth’s ridiculously distant oil pressure gauge very likely had to take their eyes off the road for too long a period of time.


#4

I like to have controls I can operate by feel. Having to go through different screens while driving doesn’t get it for me. I didn’t have to look at the dash board to operate the controls on my 1954 “low tech” Buick. The headlight switch was a pull knob to the left of the steering column. The wiper control was a turn switch to the left of the column. The heater and ventilation levers were to the right of the column and could be adjusted by feel without me having to take my eyes off the road. I could turn the radio on and set the volume by turning a knob without taking my eyes off the road and select the desired station by stepping on a pedal between the brake and clutch. I don’t find the controls on my 2011 Toyota Sienna as intuitive. For rtunately, the only time I step through a screen is when I set the clock or set up the Bluetooth when I change phones. The HVAC controls, though, can’t be operated by feel.


#5

Yep glad you’re not hurt. My Pontiac is pretty straight forward with both a station and a volume knob and one button to push for all of the information displays. Our Acura though is very convoluted and you almost have to stop the car to do much of anything. Just a volume knob so you have to search or scan to change stations. I’ve been driving one for 7 years and I still can’t get used to it. Then to plug something into the nav system requires spelling out the name etc. letter by letter while turning the multi-function knob. Of course then about four different pages for different functions which are not very intuitive. When asked for my customer review twice, I complained about it and told them just to do it the way GM does and forget all the fancy buttons. That and the orange peel paint were my two main issues. Never heard any more though so might have gotten lost between the English to Japanese translation.


#6

posted in @the_same_mountainbike shaking steering wheel alert, reposted because I think this is significant

With stop/start functionality, when the vehicle ahead of you comes to a complete stop the Equus will automatically come to a full stop. The Equus will then automatically begin to start moving again, if the vehicle ahead starts moving forward within three seconds.

I see someone texting, letting their car auto stop, car in front makes a hurried turn right to beat oncoming traffic, within 3 seconds and inattentive driver’s car proceeds into the intersection and gets t-boned!


#7

@VDCdriver I remember looking at the new 1955 Plymouths in the showroom at the DeSoto/Plymouth dealer when I was in 8th grade and I thought it was strange to put the oil aans, temperature gauges on the right side of the dashboard… The dash was revised in the 1956 Plymouth and all the guages were in front odriver driver. However the ammeter and oil pressure gauges were replaced by warning lights. I think Iwould I would choose a full set of gauges even if two of.them had locations on the right side of the dash.


#8

I wonder how much 2014’s unexpected and surprising increase in driver fatalities is due to driver distractions with all the in-car entertainment and complex controls…


#9

“I thought it was strange to put the oil aans, temperature gauges on the right side of the dashboard.”

On a positive note, the glove box on that car was placed squarely in the center of the dashboard.
However, that necessitated moving gauges to the extreme right side of the dashboard, which really makes no sense whatsoever.

Later, with my father’s '59 Plymouth, the rear view mirror was placed on a stalk jutting out from the top of the dashboard. Unfortunately, if you took advantage of the car’s six-passenger capacity–which we did on many occasions–that ridiculously-placed rear view mirror was useless for its intended purpose.

I can tell you that, when we were carrying six people in the car, my father was distracted for…an extended period of time…when he wanted to see what was behind our car, simply because that mirror was useless.


#10

Glad you are OK. Keep a lookout for after affects.

Young designers love the flash and style of their phones and iPads. They don’t consider the human factors aspect of blind feel. Features are too numerous to return to conventional controls. Now you are starting to see voice commands or hand gestures used to control the radio or heater. Not sure that will solve this problem but it should help.


#11

What’s worse is the UN-uniformity of controls and switches even among similar years AND the same manufacturer .
Now it’s obvious and understandable when I get out of my 08 and into my 79.
BUT
Two FORDS !.. 06 Escape and 08 Expedition are so different that my wife refuses to drive mine at night !..as she can’t see which control is which.
06 Escape, wipers on column lever RIGHT side, push up to operate.
08 Expedition, wipers on column lever LEFT side, twist knob to operate.
06 Escape, headlights on column lever LEFT side, twist knob to operate.
08 Expedition, headlights on dash knob left side, twist knob to operate but usually on automatic.
---- you get the idea ?


#12

Glad you weren’t hurt TSM and sorry you were hit.


#13

There is no question that the controls and the designs of modern cars are confusing and unsafe. Every review I’ve ever seen in various magazines down check the touch-screen controls, without exception. For every brand.

Then add in the unsafe visibility in most new cars. Without the newer safety features such as seat belts, air bags, collapsing front ends, side reinforcement, etc, car fatalities would be much higher than they are.

I selected the forester for my car as it was highly rated for visibility, yet I find it poor. Also picked it because it had yet to move to touchscreen controls. I has one minor accident because of poor side visibility already. The wiper controls are the exact opposite from my previous car.

And talk about bumpers. Today any car that parks on the street as i do, has dozens of scratches and dents every year. If I had to fix those up, it would cost thousands of dollars every year.


#14

Sorry to hear you got whacked. Glad no one got hurt.

Todays cars are safer but more dangerous.


#15

Young designers love the flash and style of their phones and iPads. They don’t consider the human factors aspect of blind feel. - Mustangman

Mustangman, you’ve described my feelings perfectly.

Thank you all for your thoughts. As I’ve mentioned before, aircraft cockpit controls are intentionally designed such that the pilot can tell by feel exactly what he’s doing, even with gloves on. Or at least they used to be. Autos are headed in exactly the opposite direction.

As regards my car, I’m only happy it was only my car and not some child crossing the street. My car can be fixed. A maimed or dead pedestrian cannot. My words to the kid who hit me when he told me he was tuning his radio were “I sincerely hoped you’ve learned a valuable lesson from this. You need to pay attention every moment when you’re driving.”. In the long run, my bumper just may have sacrificed itself to prevent a much more serious accident. I can live with that.

But damn (pardon my French), I wish interior designers would design the controls such that the driver wouldn’t have to divert his/her eyes from the road to find his/her radio station. Maybe voice controls will be the solution after all.


#16

I bought my daughter a Buick Reatta to drive when she was a Sophomore in college. It was about four years old. It was the first car I ever saw with touch screen controls. It had a computer screen in the center of the dash that did everything from radio controls to A/C temp. It would even send the driver a printed message at a set time. Sure enough she had a minor wreck in the parking lot at the University while setting the radio. I should have known better.

She’s not a real great driver even nineteen years later. At least she doesn’t have a touch screen to play with. I hope she doesn’t text while driving.


#17

The upside is that mountainbike was not hurt.

The downside is that while mountainbike was posting that incident there are people across the country sitting in hospital rooms or making funeral plans for loved ones who were not so lucky due to those imbeciles motoring around in a stupor while piloting 2 tons of metal and plastic.

Crumple zones, 18 airbags, padded dashes, 3 point safety harnesses, improved body structures, countless other safety features mandated ad nauseum, and the end result is a 4 wheeled entertainment system designed to take the mind off the road.

I’m still dazzled (sarcasm) by that Harley Davidson Rushmore Edition commercial where a motorcycle rider is focusing on a touch screen to accept an incoming call.
That should work well on the winding highways around Mount Rushmore… :frowning:


#18

“Crumple zones, 18 airbags, padded dashes, 3 point safety harnesses, improved body structures, countless other safety features mandated ad nauseum, and the end result is a 4 wheeled entertainment system designed to take the mind off the road.”

Beautifully written. And the sad part is that nobody seems to realize it. Or care.


#19

Isn’t there some famous contest, perhaps at Pudue University, where engineering students come up with the most complicated mechanical system to do some simple function? I think this whole concept must have spilled over into electronics where we find the most complicated at through a series of touch screens to operate a car radio.


#20

There is. I don’t remember where, but Rube Goldberg having made the concept famous I suspect there’s more than one.