Newsroom

Distraction fix right on the button

Honda has put its time machine into reverse gear, announcing that it is switching back to analogue controls to cut down driver distraction.

Dials, buttons, knobs and sliders could be coming back as the digital touch screen moves to the back seat.

The move comes as driver distraction and inattention increasingly figures in road trauma.

Bike riders are particularly exposed by this trend as it only takes a moment's inattention for drivers to miss critical information regarding traffic around them.

Car makers have regarded touch screen controls as the way of the futures, and have marketed the features heavily.

Now Honda has bucked the trend and put the breaks on, with the forthcoming Jazz model moving back to the analogue age for some controls.

The company argues that some functions such as air-conditioning and heating are difficult to operate intuitively.

Jazz project leader Takeki Tanaka said: “The reason is quite simple – we wanted to minimise driver disruption for operation, in particular, for the heater and air conditioning.

“We changed it from touchscreen to dial operation, as we received customer feedback that it was difficult to operate intuitively. 

"You had to look at the screen to change the heater seating, therefore, we changed it so one can operate it without looking, giving more confidence while driving.”

Other firms have been removing manual controls, seeking to mimic the experience of touch phone screens, claiming they are more user friendly.

However research into mobile phones has already provided overwhelming evidence that wherever you have to take your eyes off the road, and at your device, serious risks lurk.

The advantage of manual vehicle controls is that they naturally provide sensory feedback to the user about settings and position, the sort of feedback that digital controls are seeking to emulate by haptic feedback and voice response.