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Are you a fan of automotive technology?  Don’t worry, this may not be a good idea.

Are you a fan of automotive technology? Don’t worry, this may not be a good idea.

If you’re the kind of person who loves all the innovative tech features in modern cars, stop and think: Is the technology in your car making your driving safer or just adding distractions to your driving? Imagine trying to adjust the temperature while maneuvering on a busy road or struggling to activate the headlights on a new rental car. Challenge, right?

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According to a recent study by Dekra, a German car testing and inspection company, the answer may not be what we expected. Researchers argue that some of the latest technological developments, rather than helping, could make driving more complicated for many.

The impact of vehicle technology on driver behavior

The research was based on the ‘Road Safety Report 2023 – ‘Technology and People’, which sought to understand the impact of increased vehicle technology on driver behaviour.

“This risk is definitely there,” commented Thomas Wagner, Dekra traffic psychologist, highlighting the challenges that are particularly presented in unfamiliar vehicles.

To contextualise, an experiment was conducted with 80 participants, in which operational tasks were presented in two vehicles of the same model, but of different manufacture years (2012 and 2022). Interestingly, the newer vehicle, packed with high-tech gadgets, proved more confusing and time-consuming for most participants than the older model.

“Touchscreen technologies with intelligent user guidance have the potential to reduce incorrect entries, and reduce road hazards due to distraction,” noted Dr. Wagner.

However, it also highlights the potential increase in distraction, since many drivers need to stare at the screen for longer periods of time to navigate complex menus.

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Another worrying finding was that older drivers found more challenges adapting to new technologies. Moreover, the discrepancy between different car manufacturers’ technological approaches presents a steep learning curve, especially when transitioning from one vehicle to another.

“When driving vehicles of different manufacturers, such as using rental or shared cars, problems are inevitable,” added Dr. Wagner.

In the face of these challenges, the study proposes some solutions, such as standardization of operational functions, development of more efficient voice commands and more in-depth training of users. After all, as technology advances, it is imperative to ensure that it works for us, not against us.