The Future of Car Safety: The Return of Physical Buttons

The Future of Car Safety: The Return of Physical Buttons banner

In a world where touchscreens dominate modern car interiors, Europe's independent crash-test organization, Euro NCAP, is poised to shake up the automotive industry by requiring the return of physical buttons and switches for critical operations. This move, aimed at improving driver safety, is expected to have ripple effects globally, including in Australia, where the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) closely aligns with Euro NCAP standards.

From 2026 onwards, new cars seeking a five-star safety rating will need to incorporate traditional buttons and switches for essential functions such as indicators, hazard lights, wipers, horn, and emergency call features. This shift comes as a response to concerns over the overreliance on touchscreens, which have been criticized for increasing driver distraction and reducing tactile feedback.

Matthew Avery, Director of Strategic Development at Euro NCAP, highlighted the importance of minimizing eyes-off-road time by promoting the use of separate, physical controls. This move aims to enhance intuitive operation and ultimately contribute to safer driving practices.

The automotive industry has seen a gradual shift towards touch-sensitive interfaces, driven partly by cost-saving measures and advancements in technology. However, this transition has raised concerns about usability and driver distraction, prompting manufacturers to rethink their design choices.

Volkswagen, for example, faced criticism for its touch-sensitive steering wheel controls, which were deemed fiddly and difficult to use without diverting attention from the road. In response, the German automaker announced plans to reintroduce physical buttons onto steering wheels, acknowledging the importance of tactile feedback for driver engagement.

Similarly, Ferrari and Tesla have taken different approaches to control interfaces, with Ferrari retaining physical indicator buttons on the steering wheel and Tesla controversially removing the indicator stalk in favor of switches on the steering wheel pad.

While some brands have opted to centralize controls through infotainment screens, others are exploring innovative solutions to strike a balance between functionality and safety. As the automotive landscape evolves, manufacturers will need to adapt to meet evolving safety standards while providing an intuitive and user-friendly driving experience.

At Tynan Motors, we prioritize the safety and satisfaction of our customers. As changes in safety regulations reshape the automotive industry, you can trust us to provide vehicles that prioritize both safety and user experience. Stay tuned for updates as we continue to navigate the ever-changing landscape of automotive innovation.

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