Old-school buttons outperform modern touchscreens in car safety test

Why is it important: Touchscreen displays are slowly but surely replacing physical buttons as the standard way to interact with cars, but are they easier and safer than their button counterparts?

Swedish car magazine Wee Bilagare Recently tested a dozen cars. Of these, 11 were equipped with touch screens, and only one – a 17-year-old Volvo V70 – relied on the physical buttons of yesteryear.

The publication measured how long it took a driver to complete a number of basic tasks while driving at 68 mph on a closed route. Notably, drivers were given time to become familiar with each vehicle and their respective infotainment systems prior to testing.

Testing consisted of performing four tasks, including turning on the seat heater, raising the temperature by two degrees and starting the defroster, as well as turning on the stereo and tuning the station to a specific channel, resetting the trip computer and lowering the instrument lighting to the lowest level, then turning off the center display.

The 2005 push-button Volvo V70 performed the best in the tests, taking just 10 seconds for the driver to complete all the tests. Traveling at 68 mph, the car covered only 1,004 feet while the driver made adjustments.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the MG Marvel R, a compact Chinese SUV. It took the driver 44.6 seconds to complete all tasks using the touch screen and traveled 4,501 feet in the process. The Dacia Sandero was the best touchscreen car as it took the driver just 13.5 seconds to cover the entire range. The Volvo C40 was slightly behind, finishing with a time of 13.7 seconds.

According to the publication, automakers are increasingly moving to touchscreens as they allow cleaner interiors with fewer components. Bean counters also prefer touch screens because they are cheaper to implement and can be updated over time with additional features.

Do you prefer the sleek aesthetic that modern touchscreen vehicles offer, or are you a purist with a penchant for tried and true buttons?

Image credit: Randy Tarampi, Obi

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