For several years, more and more car manufacturers are abandoning the classic options for controlling various settings in the car, which are now displayed on touch screens. One such example is the Tesla Model 3, where almost all settings are displayed in the central part of the front panel of the cabin.

Many drivers are dissatisfied with such changes in cars. It is more convenient for them to change the temperature in the interior, turn on/off heated seats, adjust the radio, etc. with physical manipulators, rather than virtual ones. The main argument is the attention that needs to be paid to the display, because the classic buttons and switches are located almost without unnecessary glance at the panel.

And a study by the Swedish automotive publication Vi Bilägare confirmed this. During the experiment, drivers in different cars had to perform four actions: reset the odometer; turn on the heated seat, increase the temperature in the cabin by two degrees and start blowing the windshield; turn on the radio and switch to the desired frequency; and also set the instrument panel backlight to a minimum and turn off the central (media) display.

12 different cars were used for the test, and the speed at which it had to be done was to be 110 km/h (68 mph). Among these cars, only one was equipped with standard switches, and all the others use touch control settings. Before driving in, drivers had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the interfaces in the car.

After the test, the results of the interface efficiency were determined by the distance that the driver covered during the performance of all tasks:

Research: drivers prefer physical switches to touch control of car settings

As a result, in a car with an old configuration control scheme — a Volvo V70 (2005) — it was possible to do it in 306 meters. This was the best result among all tested cars. More modern cars that were close to this result were Dacia Sandero (414 meters) and Volvo C40 (417 meters). Other cars needed twice or three times longer, and the worst result was demonstrated by the drivers in the MG Marvel R — 1372 meters.

The publication separately notes that the study did not take into account other problems in the driving of test cars. For example, some cars do not have a backlight for the “climate” settings, which makes them difficult to use in poor lighting, and in others, too much has been transferred to the display, which requires turning away from the road to the main or even auxiliary screens. Moreover, system updates (Tesla receives such quite regularly) may have changes in the interface, which ultimately confuses the driver once again.

So yes, it’s still faster and safer to use traditional car controls than to perform the same actions on touchscreens. For example, the Mazda3 in new generations has completely abandoned touch control, and in most reviews of the Audi E-tron GT, you can hear that the classic “climate” control is more convenient in it than the Porsche Taycan with touch control (these two cars share the same platform) .