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Interactive Dashboard Displays, They are Cool, But do They Need To Be Regulated?

Recently, car dashboard displays seem to be following the same technological trajectory as current smart phones. These new displays, a hot commodity for big name automakers, can perform all of the basic functions you love most about your cellphone. The interactive displays are being manufactured now to allow people to find listings for nearby restaurants, check their Twitter mentions, and upload a photo of a place in order to find directions to that specific destination. Text messages can be read aloud to the driver, and the driver is also able to place and take phone calls via the voice command option popular with all models of these displays. And while the voice command option allows for drivers to remain focused on the road instead of being focused on their phone, certain lawmakers don’t believe that these interactive dashboard displays are any safer than using your phone while driving would be.

The average time your eyes are taken off the road while reading or sending a text message averages at about 5 seconds per glance. If you have to take your eyes off the road for any amount of time, the preferable gap would be about 1.5-2 seconds per each glance you take. The general concern being raised with these new and improved dashboard displays is that while a driver is conducting various commands with the system, their eyes will be off the road for about 4 seconds per every single glance they make until the command has been completed. Government instated guidelines say that’s just simply too long to not be paying attention to the road. They advise that drivers should stay within the 1.5-2 second rule, and that even then the average time spent taking your eyes off the road should be for no longer than 12 seconds in total.

Consumers and car dealers alike find these dashboard displays to be highly desirable. Most models of these displays allow drivers to automatically sync all the existing information and accounts from their phone directly to the car’s internal system. That means people will, essentially, have a generalized version of their entire phone on their car as well. This idea greatly appeals to drivers who want to always have minute-to-minute access to their phones and what is going on in the world around them. And while the general consensus with naysayers is that these dashboards aren’t necessarily a bad idea, they could use a few further tweaks before they become the widespread choice. A suggestion would be to improve the response functions on the systems so that they may be used within the safety guidelines provided by the government.

As of now, the interactive dashboard displays being installed in cars are not heavily regulated, and the stipulations in place by the federal motor vehicle standards are pretty light in terms of demands. Other than being able to adjust the brightness of the monitor, they don’t highlight any concrete rules that automakers need to follow during the production of these items. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, however, has issued a set of guidelines that they believe should be followed for dashboard displays within moving vehicles in order to reduce distraction for the drivers using these systems. They would advise that these systems should not contain moving photographs or images unless they are video displays that allow drivers to check the area surrounding the rear of their vehicle when they are backing up. They also ask that whenever a driver has to carry out a command, that they should be able to do so without having to press a key or tap a button more than six times per command. As of the current moment though, none of these regulations are mandatory—and automakers only have to comply to these rules voluntarily. The auto industry has also proposed its own set of standards for these displays to follow, but the government standards tend to be the safer of the two industries. Therefore, the government ideals for safety are the ideals that should be unanimously adopted.

Insurance companies are also not actively speaking out against these dashboard displays, which further allow the automakers to produce whichever type of product they feel will be most popular. The insurers claim that these displays do not increase or decrease their policy rates, and unless and until it was proven that perhaps these displays place a vehicle at a higher risk of theft, they aren’t actively concerned with the rate possibilities surrounding their development.

Interactive dashboard displays that allow you to follow along with the popular flow of technology are appealing to consumers for a variety of different reasons. And while they may not necessarily pose an enormous safety threat at the moment, it is always better to err on the side of caution. If you like them, if you want one, then be sure that you are limiting your interactions to the voice-operated commands and that if you do need to check the display itself—stick within the recommended safety guidelines of 1.5-2 seconds per each glance.