Driven to Distraction

This editorial from MSN Autos nicely summarizes a topic we’ve covered many times:  in-car technology interfering with driving.  The central problem appears to be that in-car interfaces are designed in isolation–devoid of the context in which they will actually be used (while driving).  So the designs demand a high amount of attention and concentration.

Expert on human-automation interaction Dr. John D. Lee is quoted in the article.

But most automotive experts agree that screen and voice-control systems are here to stay. There are guidelines for good interactive system design; the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers published a 90-page document outlining the best practices for the industry in 2006. It’s long-winded and a bit dated, but Lee of the University of Wisconsin-Madison summarizes the basic wisdom of the document in a few points:

  • Complex displays that require the driver to search for information using glances longer than two seconds should be avoided.
  • The interaction should not “time out” or force the driver to attend continually to the task. The driver should be able to interrupt the task easily and return attention to the road.
  • Visual information should be placed near the driver’s line of sight.
  • The display should be easily readable with text and icons that can be seen at a glance.

[MSN Autos; thanks Jeremy!]

2 thoughts on “Driven to Distraction”

  1. I sure hope my car isn’t going 65mph while in park! ref: above picture. I see these glaring disparities regularly in demo-type situations. Is this done on purpose to implicitly say “I’m a demo?”

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