If you own a relatively new car, can you really say you understand all the in-car technology you have to hand? On most vehicles, the infotainment console has so many functions that for many drivers it can feel like preparing for a space launch rather than taking a car trip.

On the face of it, it’s great that you have so much at your fingertips, satnav, music, media, Bluetooth capability, performance modes, lighting, sound, temperature control and information on every part of your vehicle. However, UK DPF has established that according to landmark research by several motoring organisations, people are less happy with their cars because of all this tech.

Motorists are turning away from accessing their music and navigation through the integrated system, choosing to use their mobile phones as a quicker and more convenient way to listen to music and get from A to B.

It has been found that only 56% of motorists play their tunes through the car’s in-built system, this is down 20% from three years ago. Phone calls and navigation are even less popular on the infotainment console, over 50% still prefer to rely on their mobile phone. With the added function of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on integrated systems drivers just link up and mirror their mobile phone onto the screen, avoiding the more complicated in-built technology.

Drivers overall appear to be less interested in so much tech and just want to be able to access the basics, easily. Too many motorists are frustrated at having to go backwards and forwards through the touchscreen and still not find what they are looking for.

Even on the newest cars, there can be problems with connectivity, turning on your vehicle and having a blank screen, causes stress before you have even started driving. An empty screen can often correct itself after turning the engine off and on again, but not always. The fact that everything including climate control is on that system can be a huge problem if you are unable to access it.

Technology is a big selling point on a vehicle and some technology is very welcome. The question is do we need so much and is there a way of making it simpler to access?

The motorist requires four key functions in their car: music, navigation, heating or AC and phone. The rest of the functions are quite frankly secondary.

The law says we can’t use handheld tech like our mobile phone when driving but we are allowed to touch the infotainment screen. According to road safety research taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of an accident so doing so to change the radio, seek alternative sat nav directions or turn up the air con is a proven dangerous distraction.

In research, it was found that it took at least twice as long to adjust climate controls on some cars using a touchscreen than using dials. Safety testing has proven that the best systems incorporate physical dials and voice control over complicated touchscreens.

It appears that car manufacturers are starting to listen to the driver and rethink the whole touchscreen situation. In fact, Porsche has phased out its all-touchscreen design of the Cayenne SUV. The new 2024 model still features the central touchscreen console but has added buttons to operate the climate control. Hyundai and Nissan are also looking at reintroducing buttons in their designs.

It may be some time until all car manufacturers get the right balance of controls that will satisfy both the driver and safety group concerns.  It does however need to happen as the number of distracted driving accidents continues to rise, the touchscreen infotainment system being part of the problem.

UKDPF would advise for safety reasons that all motorists try to adjust all necessary settings on the infotainment touchscreen before starting a journey.