How Car Dashboards are Turning Into Computers

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How Car Dashboards are Turning Into Computers

Guest writer Jordan Perch reminds us that no matter how useful and convenient today's car dashboards are, car owners need to know that they are a big distraction and have to reduce the use of all those gadgets to minimum.

Nowadays, almost all new cars are equipped with sophisticated infotainment systems that provide information and entertainment content, which includes navigation, playing audio and video content, composing, sending and receiving text messages, making phone calls, and provide Internet access, among other things.

Some of these systems can be controlled through voice commands, while others require touch-screen input, but what's common for all of them is that they are a huge source of driver distraction, no matter how they are used and controlled. Even though they are very useful and help drivers navigate through traffic more easily, and allow them to improve their cars' fuel efficiency by providing information about a car's performances and fuel consumption, using them can be quite dangerous, as it decreases a driver's road concentration and often results in collisions.

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While it's obvious that this in-car connectivity provides a lot of benefits, the fact that they cause cognitive, visual and manual distraction has urged the authorities to take more serious measures to deter drivers from using car gadgets while driving. Distracted driving laws have been put into effect in many states, involving high fines and license suspensions, but many people are still texting and making phone calls behind the wheel, which has motivated the state of New York to introduce a new way for catching and penalizing distracted drivers. Now, there are SUVs on the road that are equipped with cameras and computers and are supposed to have a better look into your car and see whether you are distracted by using your cell phone.

Car Dashboard display

This might help law enforcement agencies catch distracted drivers more easily, but it only addresses the issue of talking on a cell phone or texting while driving. But, distracted driving laws don't sanction using gadgets that car companies install on their vehicles' dashboards. A lot of cars have dashboards with large touch-screens that you can use to access the Internet, log on to your Facebook profile, and open all sorts of applications, that often don't have anything to do with driving, but are only used for entertainment purposes.

Although they are less of a distraction than cell phones, drivers have to take their eyes off the road and their hands off the wheel for a couple of seconds when they want to use some of the features provided in their cars' infotainment systems, and a couple of seconds are more than enough to lose control over a vehicle.

However, in-car connectivity is a very important part car manufacturers' efforts to stay ahead of the competition, and it's highly unlikely that they will be willing to give that up. Some car companies are aware that infotainment systems can be distracting and they are trying to reduce those distractions, by setting restrictions as to what you can use them for, such as Nissan, which only allows you to use your car's touchscreen for navigational purposes. But, this is far from an ideal solution, and no matter how useful and convenient today's car dashboards that are starting to look like computers are, car owners need to know that they are a big distraction and have to reduce the use of all those gadgets to minimum.

By Jordan PerchSubscribe to 33rd Square

Author Bio - Jordan Perch is an automotive fanatic and “green cars” specialist. He is a writer for, which is a collaborative community designed to help ease the stress and annoyance of “dealing with the DMV”.