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Euro NCAP encourages car manufacturers to replace touchscreens with physical buttons

By Mathilda Bartholomew | March 14, 2024

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Starting in 2026, Euro NCAP will give extra points to cars with easy-to-use controls

Euro NCAP encourages car manufacturers to replace touchscreens with physical buttons

One of Europe's most important car safety programs is urging car makers to put fewer controls on touchscreens and bring back physical buttons. Many drivers are frustrated with how modern cars have moved almost all controls onto touchscreens. This trend can make it hard to do simple tasks and even distract drivers.

For example, Volkswagen faced criticism for the touchscreens in its ID range, with many owners finding them frustrating and distracting. Volkswagen has promised to use more physical buttons in its future models.

The European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP), known for its safety ratings, is now encouraging car makers to make controls like wipers and indicators easy to use and not buried in touchscreens. Starting in 2026, Euro NCAP will give extra points to cars with easy-to-use controls.

According to Auto Express, Richard Schram, the Technical Director of Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Program), stated: "Euro NCAP will indeed incentivise OEMs to have physical, easy-to-use, and tactile controls of the main driving features like wipers, warning lights, and indicators." 

Even though Euro NCAP can't change laws, its safety ratings are important to car makers. They want a good rating to show their cars are safe in crashes.

Director of strategic development at Euro NCAP, Matthew Avery, told Hagerty: "The overuse of touchscreens is an industry-wide problem, with almost every vehicle-maker moving key controls onto central touchscreens, obliging drivers to take their eyes off the road and raising the risk of distraction crashes."  

Euro NCAP is now focusing on reducing distractions for drivers. Many car makers, like Tesla, have moved controls like indicators onto touchscreens. But some drivers find these controls awkward, especially when turning the steering wheel. 

In Norway, some driving schools have banned certain Tesla models without physical indicator controls because they're hard to use.

Euro NCAP is a big deal in the car world. They've introduced a lot of safety standards that now influence the technology in today's cars.

While some people prefer physical buttons for controlling car functions, there's a growing concern about the annoyance caused by modern safety systems. Euro NCAP, often praises features like Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warnings, Forward Collision Warning, and Driver Drowsiness Monitoring. However, these same features can be quite bothersome and distracting for drivers.

For example, the Kia EV9, which received a full five-star Euro NCAP rating, has been criticised for its excessive alerts and vibrations. To achieve a high Euro NCAP rating, cars must have these safety features activated every time the vehicle starts up. This means drivers may need to navigate through menus to deactivate them, adding to the distraction.

It's evident that Euro NCAP has good intentions, but it must be cautious not to inadvertently worsen matters by adding too many safety features.

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