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Touchscreen backlash? Euro NCAP says physical buttons will be “incentivised” in car safety tests

Car makers have been advised not to have important car functions on touchscreens

Audi A7 Sportback - infotainment screen

If you’re not a fan of the growing amount of controls being relocated to car touchscreen menus then Euro NCAP has some good news for you. The car safety testing body will seek to promote physical buttons for key functions in future ‘Safe Driving’ tests. 

Euro NCAP’s Technical Director, Richard Schram, commented on the plans: “Euro NCAP will indeed incentivise OEMs to have physical, easy-to-use, and tactile controls of the main driving features like wipers, warning lights, and indicators.” 

The idea behind coercing car makers to include more physical controls is to remove the growing reliance on touchscreens for basic car functions and keep the driver’s attention on the road ahead. 

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The process will be implemented from 2026 where according to Schram the Euro NCAP rating scheme “will include 5 out of 100 points under Safe Driving to push manufacturers to have intuitive, easy-to-use vehicle controls”. There’s even the possibility of raising the significance of physical controls in cars in the name of safety. “In future protocols, this might increase in importance in the rating scheme”, said Schram. 

A number of car manufacturers currently don’t offer cars with physical controls for frequently-used functions like wipers and indicators. For example, although the Tesla Model 3 currently has a full five-star safety rating, it comes with a ‘stalkless’ design with buttons on the steering wheel for the indicators and wipers. Under the new guidance from Euro NCAP, future cars with this layout may be punished with a lower safety score.

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Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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