Too Many Warning Lights Can Only Indicate Driver Overload

We had the opportunity recently to browse through the owner’s manual of a high-end European model SUV. As is our duty, we scanned the segment listing the various warning lights and indicators that may reside on the car’s instrument panel. We were frankly floored.

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For many years an Asian model SUV held the record (as recorded only by us) for the most lights available on an instrument panel at 43. This includes everything from the turn signals to axle locks.

With our latest model entry, we stopped counting at 100.

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Adaptive plus Curve IndicatorIf this were a joke no one would believe it. This number includes the fact that multiple indicators can appear in multiple colors and combinations depending on circumstance. That said, the weight of information to be distilled at any given time by a driver is simply beyond comprehension. Should he or she be driving or staring at the latest change?

Oblect Detected IndicatorThe majority of the indicators are associated with the growing list of available driver assist systems – truly ironic titling under the circumstances. The need for assistance feeds on itself.

We then came across an exchange between an editor from the St. Lawrence News and a reader discussing a roll away issue in a newer model, push button start car. That story itself is worth a click over.

The reader wonders why there isn’t a warning indicator or buzzer to note that his vehicle was not in park when he walked away with the car shut off. In the end, editor Brian Turner notes “But in the big picture how reliant are we becoming on warning systems for basic vehicle operations? It’s almost approaching the ‘caution-hot’ labels on disposable coffee cups. There is concern among industry analysts and observers that we may be approaching warning-chime overload with all the things in our vehicles that go ding. The fears are that this will lead to drivers ignoring certain warnings and that can’t lead to anything good.”

Count us among the concerned.

Seriously, the advances being made in voice technology, why couldn’t the car simply speak the words “Park is not Engaged”? We are numb to the constant buzzers and lights. Ultimately, they all sound a look alike. Some plain language is just plain needed.

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