Euro NCAP’s Bold Move for Safer Roads – Calls For Return To Physical Controls In Cars


Euro NCAP’s Drive for Change in Car Interior Design

Euro NCAP, the European car safety authority, is set to shake up the automotive industry with groundbreaking guidelines slated for 2026. These guidelines, driven by safety concerns, could reshape how future vehicles are designed, specifically targeting the prevalent use of touchscreen controls in cars.


Addressing Distraction: A Touchscreen Conundrum

Matthew Avery, Euro NCAP’s Director of Strategic Development, emphasizes the need for change due to rising concerns about the use of touchscreens in cars. These digital interfaces, controlling vital functions like turn signals and hazard lights, contribute to driver distraction and pose potential safety risks on the road.

The Call for a Return to Basics: Physical Controls Revisited

Euro NCAP’s proposed guidelines urge car manufacturers to reintroduce physical controls for essential functions. By minimizing reliance on touchscreens, the aim is to keep drivers focused on the road while operating critical vehicle systems. The emphasis lies on tactile controls for turn signals, horns, and emergency SOS systems, without demanding a complete return to a button-laden dashboard.

Tesla in the Spotlight: A Shift in Design Dynamics

One major player in the automotive industry, Tesla, known for its minimalist design and touchscreen reliance, might be impacted by these guidelines. The recent switch from traditional stalks to haptic buttons for turn signals could raise eyebrows under Euro NCAP’s new evaluation criteria.


Euro NCAP’s Influence: Safety Ratings as a Driving Force

While Euro NCAP lacks regulatory authority, its safety ratings hold significant sway over automakers. Achieving a coveted five-star safety rating is a powerful selling point, prompting manufacturers to align with Euro NCAP’s evolving standards.

Tech vs. Safety: Striking the Right Balance

As Euro NCAP pushes for safer roads, questions arise about the delicate balance between technological innovation and driver distraction. While touchscreen controls offer sleek aesthetics and user-friendly interfaces, critics argue they may compromise safety by diverting drivers’ attention to digital displays.


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A Future Uncertain: How Will Manufacturers Respond?

With Euro NCAP’s guidelines yet to take effect, the automotive industry faces uncertainty regarding how manufacturers will respond. As safety concerns continue to dominate industry discussions, it’s likely that companies will reevaluate their design strategies to meet the evolving standards set by Euro NCAP.

In a world where innovation meets safety, Euro NCAP‘s bold initiative sets the stage for a potential revolution in car design, aiming to make our roads safer for everyone.


  1. Why is Euro NCAP making this change?

Euro NCAP is concerned that touchscreen controls for critical functions distract drivers, increasing the risk of accidents.

  1. What are some examples of essential functions Euro NCAP wants physical controls for?

Turn signals, hazard lights, horn, windshield wipers, and emergency SOS systems.

  1. Does this mean touchscreens are disappearing from cars?

No, but their use for critical functions might be reduced. Touchscreens can still be used for infotainment and other non-essential tasks.

  1. Isn’t Tesla known for its touchscreen-heavy design? How will this affect them?

Tesla’s recent switch to haptic buttons for turn signals might not meet Euro NCAP’s criteria for easy-to-use physical controls.

  1. Are Euro NCAP’s rules mandatory?

No, but car manufacturers prioritize achieving a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, so they’ll likely adapt their designs.

  1. Is this just a European thing? Will it affect cars elsewhere?

The impact might extend beyond Europe as Euro NCAP’s ratings influence safety standards globally.

  1. What are the benefits of physical controls for drivers?

Physical controls allow drivers to operate essential functions without taking their eyes off the road, improving focus and reaction time.

  1. Are there any downsides to having physical buttons again?

Some argue physical buttons might clutter car interiors compared to the clean look of touchscreens.

  1. Can’t car manufacturers have both physical and touchscreen controls?

Yes, a hybrid approach with physical buttons for critical functions and touchscreens for infotainment seems likely.

  1. Isn’t this a step backward in terms of car technology?

Not necessarily. It’s about prioritizing safety while still allowing for technological advancements.

  1. Will these new guidelines make cars more expensive?

The cost impact is unclear, but it might be minimal compared to the potential safety benefits.

  1. When will we see cars with these new physical controls?

The Euro NCAP guidelines take effect in 2026, so expect car models launched after that to reflect this shift.

  1. What are some safety concerns with using touchscreens while driving?

Taking your eyes off the road to navigate menus or confirm actions on a touchscreen can be dangerous.

  1. How does this decision impact car user experience (UX)?

Ideally, carmakers can find a balance between user-friendly touchscreens and intuitive physical controls for essential functions.

  1. Is there any research to support Euro NCAP’s concerns about touchscreens?

Yes, studies suggest that using touchscreens while driving can lead to distraction and slower reaction times.

  1. What do carmakers think about this change?

Some manufacturers, like Hyundai and Nissan, are already reintroducing physical controls in response to safety concerns.

  1. Will there be a way for older cars with touchscreens to be compliant?

Probably not. Euro NCAP’s guidelines are for new car designs and safety ratings.

  1. What if I prefer a car with mostly touchscreens? Will they still be available?

There might be some options, but safety ratings and potential regulations could make them less common.

  1. Is this the end of innovation in car interiors?

No, innovation can focus on improving physical control design and integrating touchscreens safely.

  1. What does this mean for the future of car safety?

European NCAP’s initiative highlights the importance of prioritizing driver focus and safety alongside technological advancements.

For more automotive updates and industry trends, stay tuned to Motorlane.


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