Euro NCAP to Give Lower Ratings for No Physical Buttons

The rise of large in-car displays has come at the expense of traditional buttons. However, physical controls could be making a comeback if automakers wish to get the highest Euro NCAP safety ratings for their vehicles. New rules, set to go into effect in January 2026, would deduct points from vehicles that lack some traditional controls.

According to information, Euro NCAP intends to downgrade the safety ratings of newly tested cars that don’t have buttons, stalks, or dials for the following functions: turn signals, hazard lights, horns, windscreen wipers, and emergency calls. The latter is known as the eCall function, which has been mandatory in the European Union for several years. It automatically phones the local emergency number in the event of a catastrophic car accident.

merc screen

Matthew Avery, Euro NCAP’s director of strategy development, explains why the decision was made to penalize automakers which compel drivers to rely almost entirely on screens:

“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. New Euro NCAP tests due in 2026 will encourage manufacturers to use separate, physical controls for basic functions in an intuitive manner, limiting eyes-off-road time and therefore promoting safer driving.”

Since you have to divert your attention from the road to access the numerous submenus of a contemporary infotainment system, it raises safety concerns. On the other hand, buttons and knobs on the dashboard are always in their usual locations hence easier to operate. BMW CEO Oliver Zipse in an interview with Automotive News Europe at CES 2023, also said he is “absolutely convinced” huge screens will be outlawed in a decade or so. Oliver said:

“In 10 years, that is gone. Probably the regulator will not allow it. If you have to look down to operate your car, we think it’s a big mistake.”

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