New European car safety rules will favour buttons over touchscreens

Some modern cars like the Honda CR-V shown here provides a good mix of screen and physical buttons.

BRUSSELS: The era of carmakers trying to replace all physical controls on vehicle dashboards with touchscreens may soon be coming to an end amid new rules planned by Europe's leading body for crash safety.

The European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP) is set to give preference to buttons and switches over touchscreens for key vehicle functions in its crash testing starting in 2026.

It is good news for fans of conventional haptic controls and physical controls will be required for five key functions, namely operating the indicators, hazard lights, windscreen wipers, emergency calls and the car's horn.

"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," Matthew Avery, director of strategic development at Euro NCAP, told British daily newspaper, The Times.

The NCAP plan means manufacturers seeking to score maximum points in Euro NCAP's crash testing will need to do away with just relying on touchscreens.

Euro NCAP requirements are not mandatory but safety scores are a key selling point for new vehicles. Carmakers are therefore expected to adjust their designs to meet the new standards. Some manufacturers have already started replacing digital controls with physical ones.

Notable among them is Volkswagen which re-introduced physical controls into the final-model petrol Golf and its electric ID.3 hatchbacks after adverse customer feedback showed an excess of touch controls was unpopular.
Autos Honda