Watch out for New Car Drivers

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I’m no 007, but I am leading a life of danger.

You see, week after week, I push the safety envelope. I don’t jump out of planes or wrestle alligators.

I road test cars.

Sure, I’m surrounded by a horde of airbags and the latest safety devices. But I’m also facing a threat that I have no doubt is causing accidents all over the nation. New car dashboards.

2012 Audi A6 Dashbord
2012 Audi A6 Control Center

OK, I’m sure you’re looking at me (at least my blog) a little funny right now, but hear me out. Years ago I could jump into just about any car on the road and instantly know how it worked. Light switches were nearly all in the same place. Radios had a row of simple buttons. A/C and heater switches were right where you expected them to be.

These days, you need special training before you get behind the wheel of any new cars. Between video screens and mouse pads, you’re suddenly faced with more decisions than ordering coffee at Starbucks. Auto manufacturers have decided that building a good car isn’t enough. It has to be interactive. It has to be loaded with gadgets.

MyFord Touch
MyFord Touch System Gives Plenty of Options

The problem is that unless you spend some serious time when you first get the car memorizing each button, switch and touch pad, you’ll be learning as you go. Which means that instead of concentrating on the traffic around you, you’re trying to change the mood lighting in the foot well or trying to figure out how the new navigation system works.

I have always said that people need to spend some time reading the owner’s manual of their new car. I used to feel that way because there was always one or two things that could help a driver, but they never knew about them. Now there are hundreds of things that designers have built into your new car. Without some serious studying, you’ll be focusing on automotive gadgetry just as the traffic light turns red.

2013 Lexus GS450h Dashboard
Lexus GS450h with Multimedia Interface

And if you don’t have a new car, here’s my warning. Watch out for anyone driving a brand new car. Here in Arizona you can usually spot them because they have paper license plates while they’re waiting for the new ones to arrive. If that new owner is responsible they’re learning how to use that new touch screen before they leave the driveway. If not, you can bet that their attention is divided. And that’s never a good thing while driving.

2013 Kia Soul console
Even the Simple is Complicated on the Kia Soul

As for me, I’ll continue to lead this life of danger. After all, if James Bond can figure out how to survive all of his gadgets, I should be able to survive a road test.

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