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Technology and driver distraction - the need for industry guidelines.
There is an increasing trend towards more sophisticated in-vehicle information and entertainment systems. Many of these systems are designed to assist with the task of driving and navigation, but unless carefully designed, they can become a distraction. The distraction issue is complex: Older drivers and inexperienced drivers have different cognitive and sensory requirements than those of experienced drivers. Users who are unfamiliar with an interface suffer a greater level of distraction than experienced users. Worldwide national standards differ significantly. The Japanese standards are very prescriptive about the design, whereas the European and American standards are more principle based and share many similarities. Australia is one of the few developed countries that hold virtually no standards at all. Holden, together with Monash University Accident Research Centre have been researching this issue since 2001 and have developed an extensive knowledge base. When following good design principles, driver distraction is significantly reduced, e.g. a well-designed navigation system can be less distracting than using a traditional paper map or street directory. To codify the knowledge from this research, Holden is developing a set of design guidelines for minimising driver distraction. These guidelines could easily form the basis of a set of national standards. The Australian car industry needs to work together to produce standards applicable to this country. Low volume production runs mean that without local standards, Australia is destined to accept often inappropriate and mediocre “off the shelf” interfaces from overseas.