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Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/12/2018 12:59 PM

I have noticed recently, as I drive more and more newer automobiles that I am being distracted due to the many bells and whistles that adorn the dash's of newer cars. When my eyes should be focused on what's ahead on the road, I am checking rear view and side mirrors, looking at radio and heater controls, fiddling with a switch or control or setting cruise control. All this takes my attention away from what's ahead. At least this is my impression. I can see a welcome need for automatic braking. I find more distractions that rival cell phones.

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#1

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/12/2018 1:04 PM

From experience, I find its always a good idea is to sit behind the wheel orientate and familiarize yourself with a new vehicle before driving it. (Wipers, environmental controls, dashboard lights, mirror adjustments, ect...)

Even take out the owners manual and at least page through it.

As you familiarize yourself with the car, these 'bells and whistles' becomes less distracting because you'll know the degree of what importance to put on them.

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#7
In reply to #1

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/12/2018 1:30 PM

I do read the manual, but I'm talking about cars that are not completely new; cars that I have driven a year or more. There are so many controls on the console, that I have to take my eyes off the road to select the right one. I can't just reach over and touch the right control without glancing. Airline pilots are able to manipulate controls just by feel, and that takes training. Automobiles don't have that tactile feature built in and so rely on vision. Cars I have owned and driven 60 plus years ago didn't have much in the way of dashboard attention other than the radio. Everything you needed was easily controlled without looking. The only real distraction was the girl in the next seat. Them were the days; sigh. BTW, gas was 20¢ a gallon.

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#9
In reply to #7

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/12/2018 1:44 PM

when I mentioned from experience, it was back when I'm looking for a new used car, I finally found one, and then negotiated the price and I purchased a used Oldsmobile Intrigue, (they just stopped making the Oldsmobile).

It was dark when I left dealer lot, and when I just drove out of the lot onto the road, it just started raining something fierce. And trying to find the dam wiper switch, more/less turn it on, on a rather busy highway, when its dark and raining by the bucket loads is a situation I swore I'd never put myself in again.

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#12
In reply to #7

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/12/2018 2:34 PM

" There are so many controls on the console, that I have to take my eyes off the road to select the right one."

The ONLY controls you should be worried about when your vehicle is in motion are the steering wheel, throttle, brake and what's in your windshield and maybe rear view mirrors.

That's it! Anything else is a distraction.

"Airline pilots are able to manipulate controls just by feel." All pilots are required to be "type certified." If you are an airline pilot, you can't simply hop into a Cessna 310 and fly away, unless you have been trained in, and certified for, that specific aircraft type.

At our advanced age, we are not capable of multitasking while going 70 MPH down the freeway. Fiddle with the distracting things in the parking lot or your garage.

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#13
In reply to #12

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/12/2018 2:50 PM

At our advanced age, we are not capable of multitasking while going 70 MPH down the freeway. Fiddle with the distracting things in the parking lot or your garage.

otherwise...

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#18
In reply to #12

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/12/2018 11:04 PM

The ONLY controls you should be worried about when your vehicle is in motion are the steering wheel, throttle, brake.

That's what really concerns me about today's drive,-by-wire vehicles. No physical connection between the driver and these vital systems. Look what happened here:

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#20
In reply to #12

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/13/2018 12:04 AM

".... The ONLY controls you should be worried about when your vehicle is in motion are the steering wheel, throttle, brake and what's in your windshield and maybe rear view mirrors....."

Hmmmm. So you are one of those driving down the road...

-not using the turn signal...why worry about turn signals?

-without your lights on...or with your brights on blinding oncomers, because who needs to worry about where those controls are?

- screaming down the road at just 30mph because you aren't worried your automatic transmission is in 'L' instead of 'D'. It would have to be an automatic because you couldn't be bothered to locate a clutch, much less all those gears.

- the other drivers are in even more danger when it is raining or snowing or when conditions are such that the windows fog over, because you can't be bothered to worry about controlling things like windows, wipers, and defogging settings.

Please tell us you were hasty and oversimplified.

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#24
In reply to #20

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/13/2018 8:20 AM

-not using the turn signal...why worry about turn signals?

Ah,... I wonder if they still teaches this in Drivers ED.

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#34
In reply to #24

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/13/2018 10:40 AM

Ah,... I wonder if they still teaches this in Drivers ED.

This is too risky today. The driver could drop their phone!

If you see this going on, they are likely just trying to get a cell signal!

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#36
In reply to #34

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/13/2018 11:00 AM

This is Jimmy....

"and then, out of no where, BAM!..."

Don't be like Jimmy....

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#47
In reply to #12

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/13/2018 11:04 PM

How advanced, is Advanced Age ?

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#33
In reply to #7

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/13/2018 10:23 AM

"Airline pilots are able to manipulate controls just by feel, and that takes training."

This isn't strictly true. Commercial cockpits require 2 pilots (in the old days it was 3 including a flight engineer). One pilot has the flight controls and, in general, can manipulate everything he needs to by feel so as to keep his/her attention on flight attitude instruments and out the window. The non-flying pilot is responsible for all non-flying duties such as tuning radios, manipulating flight computer(s), monitoring system instruments, etc. And all this in a much less congested environment than a public road.

I often feel, based on some of the drivers I'm aware of, that some people should be required to have a passenger that would handle all inside the windshield tasks.

And then there are those totally irresponsible drivers that insist on fiddling with all their toys, including texting, that distract them from what going on around them. Some common sense laws, like one here in Virginia that requires "tv screens" not to be in visual range of the driver, to be blurred into unenforceable anachronisms.

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#35
In reply to #33

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/13/2018 10:57 AM

'Otto' Pilot reporting for duty sir.

Your 'Otto' pilot comes with instructions in case of deflation... good luck

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#38
In reply to #35

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/13/2018 11:41 AM

That is an accurate description of many young First Ossifers.

At least according to a lot of Captains!

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#42
In reply to #38

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/13/2018 12:54 PM

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#52
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Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/15/2018 10:27 AM

In a product design book I once saw a picture of a nuclear reactor control panel. Someone had affixed beer tap handles onto the ends of several levers. Now there's tactile feedback!

Hey, Homer, give it a little more Budweiser!

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#2

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/12/2018 1:17 PM

I agree 100%. My last couple cars had the hands free phone feature. I have spent more miles fiddling around with that getting it to hook up to my phone than I ever did using my phone. I probably use my phone once every 6 months while driving but I have to fiddle with it every time I'm in the car. Better if I just didn't have it. Now I am back in a 22 year old car with none of that stuff and much more attentive and happier driver.

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#3

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/12/2018 1:21 PM

What I see now-a days in "OPC" (other peoples cars) when I'm on the road early in the dark morning, is the large touchscreen display centered where the radio usually is. I guess you can dim those things but I typically see them bright as day. It would be a HUGE distraction for me to have that bright display always trying to get my attention for one silly reason or another. Just wait until you can buy a car at a discount when that display constantly feeds you push advertising and coupons for a business you just drove by? Just because there is new tech doesn't mean you have to use it in everything! I prefer to simplify because there is less to go wrong!

!?!?!

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/12/2018 1:23 PM

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#5

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/12/2018 1:25 PM

"It ain't broke; it just needs more duct tape." - Anonymous Poster #0

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#8
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Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/12/2018 1:42 PM

When I wore a younger mans clothes, our family would be somewhere off-road in off-road vehicles of various types. In the "ammo-can" toolbox (water resistant) there was the ever present roll of duct tape and a roll of tie wire, a pair of pliers and a knife of some type. We broke a tie rod and front shock tower mount about an hour from the camp site which rendered the front wheel unusable. We picked up the front of the dune buggy, set it on the ammo can and promptly wired the parts together and taped them for good measure. The repair was so good that we made it all the way back without issue. My uncle stated that we should just keep it as is but my dad suggested he break out his welder and put some weld on it.

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#10
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Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/12/2018 1:45 PM

there was the ever present roll of duct tape and a roll of tie wire, a pair of pliers and a knife of some type.

Sounds like the contents of the toolbox of our baler back when I was on the farm.

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#29
In reply to #10

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/13/2018 9:21 AM

What! No WD-40 ?

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#30
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Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/13/2018 9:24 AM

lol,... we keep that in the tractor tool box...

brings back memories... 20 acres of hay laying waiting to get baled, thunderstorms on the horizon, baler knotter acting up,... and you going through all the tool boxes, for a 1/2" wrench that your brother took out the day prior, looking for something you can improvise with.

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#48
In reply to #10

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/13/2018 11:10 PM

Where did they put the medicinal bottle of Brandy ?

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#6

Re: Too many bells and whistles

04/12/2018 1:27 PM

The scene in Demolition Man where Sandra Bullock tells Sly that Taco Bell was the only fast food place to survive the "franchise wars"

Taco Bell is like a diuretic on steroids! Yuck! Tech at its worst!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFiDoOgRTpk

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#11

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/12/2018 2:25 PM

Last week I rented VW Jetta while I was in TN for my nephew's wedding. I drive a 2011 Subaru Forester, base model, no bells and whistles but it does turn off the headlights when the ignition is off. After 20 years of Subarus I never remember to turn off headlights, but fortunately the VW beeped a reminder at me.

However, even though the VW used the same or similar symbols to stand for rear-window defrost and so forth, other controls weren't intuitive: the windshield wipers were the opposite to every other car I've driven; rearview mirror adjustment was completely non-intuitive; I never figured out a few other useful controls. When I pulled up to buy gas I couldn't find the fuel door lock release. Thanks to my smartphone I found out that this car doesn't have a fuel door lock.

Other rental cars I've had included the owner's manual; unfortunately this one did not. A voice-activated assistant would've been a most welcome feature.

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#14
In reply to #11

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/12/2018 3:09 PM

French cars are famous for having controls backwards. British cars also, but for a different reason.

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/12/2018 3:36 PM

I suppose they'd think we are the ones who are backwards! I was going to say that the Peugeot Mr. Best in Show and I rented in Provence wasn't all backwards but then I remembered I didn't drive it.

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#22
In reply to #11

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/13/2018 4:13 AM

I drive a Forester (great car) & the feature that catches me out is the hill holder. When you stop on an upward incline, you don't need the handbrake, the car holds the brakes on until you raise the clutch pedal to drive away. It works really well until those times when I'm driving a hire van & forget that I need apply the handbrake myself.

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#32
In reply to #22

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/13/2018 9:50 AM

Hmm ... Mr. BIS drives a standard-transmission Forester. I don't know if he's aware of that feature since he seldom gets stuck on an uphill incline. I'll have to ask him. If we lived in Pittsburgh we'd need it all the time. Side note: if an Uber self-driving car can succeed in Pgh it can succeed anywhere.

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#16

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/12/2018 8:39 PM

Avoid the road close to the beach,

Avoid having your wife with you when going close to the beach.

Avoid driving to slow, one could think you are an old man, when only you are distracted from whats going on on the "dashboard".

Do not fiddle too long. It is distracting!

Last but not least if it gets too much avoid the distractions, your life depends on it!

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#17

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/12/2018 10:42 PM

Because of all the new tech going into aircraft nowadays, a major aspect of the design process has become the need to reduce pilot workload. While this is especially important in single seat military designs, two pilot commercial aircraft are also starting to benefit from the effort.

I hate most current automotive design for the reasons you state and I think aircraft automation improvements will eventually filter down to the automotive industry. A lot of aerospace technology usually does.

But then, when manual driving is eventually outlawed it all becomes moot anyway.

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#19

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/12/2018 11:43 PM

Actually, I like knowing the outside temperature and which direction I am going (I could use a lot better resolution for direction though! ±45º doesn't really cut it!)

There is a standard "set" of controls on autos aside from actually controlling the auto (in order of importance):

  • Lights
  • Wipers
  • Heating/cooling
  • Radio/CD/Cassette
  • Cruise control

We learned to manipulate these controls by feel - not by sight, so that we would not have to take our eyes off the road. That's how I learned, anyway!

That was the case for several decades. Now, we have GPS, Satellite music, and more with computer consoles in all the newer cars.

Can't we learn to control these advanced features like we did the ones before? Operate them enough while not driving so we can, when we are driving, not let it distract us from our main task of driving?

Just doesn't seem like an issue to me, ronseto!

Are you getting old?

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#21
In reply to #19

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/13/2018 1:04 AM

I wish the automobile companies would agree to put the controls (wipers, lights, cruise control, etc) is the same locations. I had no difficulty, after learning to fly in a Cessna 150, transitioning to a Cherokee 180. The T-34 was a bit different but at least the instruments were in a similar configuration.

Not so with vehicles. I have a Ford F150 and a Kia Sorento and the wiper controls are on opposite sides of the steering wheel. Cruise controls are also located in different locations. And neither are the same as the Ford Ranger or the Honda CRX. And don't get me started on the WW washer--pull for the front and push for the rear--my brain wants to move the lever towards the window that requires cleaning. At least the brakes and accelerator are in the same locations.

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#26
In reply to #21

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/13/2018 8:22 AM

I wish the automobile companies would agree to put the controls (wipers, lights, cruise control, etc) is the same locations.

But it would interfere with their style,... you know,... the thing that can separate itself from its competition....

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#41
In reply to #26

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/13/2018 12:48 PM

Style, Safety

They both start with "S" but quickly diverge after that.

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#23
In reply to #19

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/13/2018 6:14 AM

Curiously enough, I have been having a similar discussion on a Tesla forum. My vehicle has front and back fog lights which are switched by controls on the central display console, hidden 2 menus deep, the least ergonomic arrangement I have ever seen. One forum member pretended he could access them without taking eyes off the road, which I simply disbelieve. I have solved the problem by 3D printing a little frame to mark out the relevant switch positions on the console.

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#28
In reply to #23

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/13/2018 8:30 AM

You could probably sell that frame. Good idea!

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#53
In reply to #23

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/18/2018 6:59 AM

"and back fog lights"? Really? Now I have heard everything! If you are going fast enough in reverse to need fog lights, you might be doing it wrong!

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#54
In reply to #53

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/18/2018 7:32 AM

Rear fog lights are a statutory requirement in Europe, though I understand this is not true of the USA. They are red in colour and are intended to warn the vehicle behind. They are not the same as reversing lights, which are optional, but must be white in colour and switched in association with reverse gear.

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#55
In reply to #54

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/18/2018 9:52 AM

Oh. OK. Makes sense I guess.

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#27
In reply to #19

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/13/2018 8:24 AM

I agree, I just want to add one more thing,... I like the tire pressure sensors...

I don't think many people pay close enough attention to the tire pressure.

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#51
In reply to #19

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/14/2018 6:18 PM

I learned to drive back in 1952. My first car was an MG-TD with a tach and a speedometer. I signaled with my arm out the window and still do if I am driving a car with broken turn signals. I always and still do dim my high beams for oncoming traffic. I always use turn signals when changing lanes and at intersections, even when there are no other vehicles around. I drive fast, but never tailgate. When my cell rings, I ignore it until I am stopped. I drive with my lights on when it is foggy and early in the AM when there is a lot of sun glare. I always turn my head to look to the side before changing lanes. Yes! I am 83 and I still practice my driving skills. My current car is a 2006 Mercury and a 2001 Chevy pickup. I will never have a newer vehicle. I can't remember when I last had an accident that was my fault, but I have had others hit me from the rear, and that was about 20 years ago. My reactions are still excellent and I respond automatically when a situation presents itself. I did some auto racing in my earlier days; not demolition derby or grand prix. When I'm driving, my eyes are focused around 100+ feet ahead of me, not at the front of the car. I see drivers leaning way forward while driving as they squint at a few feet in front of them. That is a sure formula for disaster. When I pass, I always do it as quickly as possible to shorten exposure in the oncoming lane. I always brake BEFORE going into a sharp turn. I wonder how many drivers follow my driving pattern. I enjoy driving because it allows me to exercise and improve my skill. In other words, I follow all the rules of the road. I just got my driver's license renewed for another 8 years; might just be my last one.

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#25

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/13/2018 8:21 AM

20 years ago, you could adjust the climate controls by touch. Not with my new truck, has to be done via the center computer screen. I defy anybody to do this without talking your eyes off the road. Wait to stop you say? When the windshield fogs up and you need the defroster now, try it.

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#31

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/13/2018 9:37 AM

It would seem Elon Musk agrees with you.

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#37

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/13/2018 11:39 AM

I'm surprised that they give a prominent position and large size to the tachometer on all cars. Most drivers have no idea what it does and no one uses it. But it is as big as the speedometer. A leftover from the 4-speed muscle car era, I guess.

I recently drove a rental Cadillac. The console was a blank sheet of plastic with chrome bits scattered about. I tried pressing the chrome bits to no avail. I found that if I touched near the bits numbers would flash, but fade before I could read them. I returned the car several days later, not sure if I had turned on the air conditioning or launched nuclear missiles.

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#39

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/13/2018 11:50 AM

The light switch reached it's optimal form 70 years ago. One knob, pull halfway for parking lights, all the way for headlights and twist for dash dimmer. But I have seen so many goofy variations on this venerable design. Push buttons with no indication of status. Switches on the driver door (a Buick Park Avenue). Toggles, rockers, buttons, slides...

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#40

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/13/2018 12:11 PM

I refuse to buy a vehicle with touch-screen controls. If I can't use a control without looking at it, I don't want it in my vehicle.

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#43
In reply to #40

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/13/2018 1:08 PM

I do see one good thing about touch screens. Most incorporate a back-up camera and activate whenever the shift selector is in R. This comes in very handy for use in backing.

And it can't be used for the application of makeup.

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#44
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Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/13/2018 1:33 PM

And that is the one good thing about the computer screen...and it has saved me from hitting somebody that was walking in back of the truck, looking at their phone and totally clueless about their surroundings.

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#45
In reply to #43

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/13/2018 1:59 PM

Could not agree with you more. Had my first experience with a back-up camera in the rented Jetta (see earlier comment). I am absolutely terrible at backing up, and now that I'm old it's hard to crank my neck around anyway.

I use the nice lighted mirror in the sun visor for makeup but only when stationary.

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#46
In reply to #43

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/13/2018 2:16 PM

I like the backup camera screen. My Ford Focus has one. It isn't a touch-screen though. It has four actual buttons you can feel and press without looking at them just below the screen.

My son (19 years old) bought a used Ford F-150 that had an aftermarket stereo. All the controls were on the touchscreen. He thought it was really cool when he bought it, but came to hate it after about a year. I drove it a few times. It was almost impossible to change the radio station while maintaining focus on the road. When a station would get out of range, rather than trying to get a different one, I would just shut it off and you couldn't even do that without looking at the damn screen to find the virtual power button.

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#49

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/14/2018 12:07 PM

Touch screens are fine when you are sitting at your desk, or living room, or operating a stationary machine on the factory floor; but they have no business in the controls of a motor vehicle where the driver's attention must be focused on the roadway that they are driving on.

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#50

Re: Too Many Bells and Whistles

04/14/2018 1:31 PM

Buy a restomod.....

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