Safety technology in passenger vehicles has come a long way over the past decade or so. From blind spot warning systems to automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning systems, the safety features in modern vehicles are geared towards helping motorists avoid traffic accidents at all costs.
While most of these systems have been widely accepted and appreciated, however, one of the latest advancements in vehicle safety – head-up displays or HUDs – has been met with resistance and some criticism.
That’s because, as some say, these displays may end up causing more distractions for drivers than they end up preventing.
Background on Head-Up Displays
Currently available in some luxury model vehicles, like some Lexus and Cadillac cars, HUDs are see-through displays that are featured a few feet in front of drivers, typically appearing at the bottom of windshields. These displays present an array of information about the driving conditions and the state of the vehicle, including (but not limited to) info about the vehicle speed, the speed limit on the roadway and the fuel level for the vehicle.
Including HUDs in passenger vehicles is meant to help curb driver distraction, auto industry insiders say. Explaining this position, Barry Hoch, a general manager at Audi, has pointed out:
From our perspective, the whole reason for head-up displays is to help with driver distraction… You reduce the tilting of the head by 20 degrees, which is what’s required to look at an instrument cluster. And you don’t need to refocus back on the road.
Distraction Is Still a Significant Risk with HUDs, Some Worry
Countering auto industry insiders’ arguments in support of head-up displays and their safety benefits, some have noted that HUDs carry a big risk of creating far more distractions for drivers than they limit. This is because, among other things, there are not currently any federal regulations regarding what these displays can – and cannot – feature.
As CEO of the National Safety Council, Deborah Hersman has explained:
It’s like the Wild West out there in terms of what’s being put into cars, and we’re expressing caution because there are no standards…If a head-up display can warn of a collision or a grade crossing ahead and a train coming, that may actually help… But if it puts up an iPod playlist or sends a restaurant reservation, that may distract from the task of driving.
Explaining these concerns in another way, Guido Meier-Arendt, a technical expert at Continental, noted that, “[HUDs are] like the salt in the soup. It’s a must have, but you have to be careful how much you use.”
What do you think about HUDs? Would you find these displays helpful at reducing distractions and promoting safety behind the wheel? Or do you agree that they may be more distracting than safe? Tell us what you think on Facebook & Google+.
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