Cars Will Need More Buttons and Fewer Screens to Ace Crash Tests in Europe

European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP) doesn’t like where automotive design is headed. And now, it’s doing something about it.

The independent testing body has announced a new set of requirements for cars that want to attain a perfect five-star safety rating going forward, according to The Times. Starting next January, any automaker that wants their motor vehicles to ace the group’s safety test will need to add more physical buttons and de-emphasize touch-sensitive controls.

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If you’ve gone car shopping over the past few years, chances are you’ve noticed one of the more annoying automotive trends in recent memory: the disappearance of discrete physical controls. More and more automakers are taking functions that used to be triggered by a button, dial, or switch and working them into increasingly large touchscreen displays. Rather than simply pressing a button to turn on the air conditioning, you now have to go into your infotainment system, find the climate control app, select your desired setting, and turn it on. Not only is this needlessly complicated, but, according to Euro NCAP, it’s also dangerous.

The Mercedes-Benz EQE.
Touch-sensitive interfaces, like Mercedes-Benz’s MBUX Hyperscreen, are only becoming more popular

“The overuse of touchscreens is an industry-wide problem, with almost every vehicle-maker moving key controls onto central touchscreens, obliging drivers to take their eyes off the road and raising the risk of distraction crashes,” Matthew Avery, Euro NCAP director of strategy development, told the British newspaper.

The group is well aware that touchscreens are here to stay, but it would like to see automakers bring back physical controls for basic functions that allow drivers to keep their attention trained on the road ahead, according to Ars Technica. The new Euro NCAP rules, which are still being finalized, call for physical controls for turn signals, hazard lights, windshield wipers, and horns, among other functions. This may not seem like much to ask, but there are automakers out there who have put (or thought very hard about putting) these features behind a touch-sensitive interface.

Since Euro NCAP is an independent safety body its proposed new standards are not legal requirements, and as such are only a suggestion for automakers. But, the group is backed by several E.U. nations, and several automakers — including the touchscreen-obsessed Tesla, but also legacy automakers like BMW and Volkswagen—have touted its ratings of their vehicles in the past, according to the Verge. We’ll now see just how much sway the group really has in the industry.

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