Cadillac Will Drive Us to Distraction With a 38" Wide Curved OLED Screen

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Video screen capture. Escalade dashboard/ Cadillac

Distracted driving isn't just caused by cellphones.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), distracted driving is a problem, but they write:

Cellphones and texting aren't the only things that can distract drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as any activity that could divert attention from the primary task of driving. Besides using electronic gadgets, distractions can also include adjusting a radio, eating and drinking, reading, grooming, and interacting with passengers. The crash risk associated with these other activities isn't well established.
Yet so many car manufacturers are just making the distractions bigger. They are following Tesla in removing almost all of the old intuitive controls like knobs and dials, and replacing them with giant touchscreens, like this one coming from Cadillac in 2021. Zac Palmer of Autoblog describes it:
This screen is a curved OLED display that measures 38 inches from corner-to-corner. The exact resolution wasn’t revealed, but Cadillac claims the pixel density is twice that of a 4K television... Cadillac’s use of an OLED screen will ensure it has spectacular color representation and the best blacks that a screen is capable of. Smartphones with OLED displays typically offer a better experience than those with LCD displays, and we can hope the same is true for this Cadillac display. On top of it being a huge screen, Cadillac also says it’s the “first curved OLED” in the industry.

No doubt many of the controls for the car will now be touchscreen operated, which is proving to be a big distraction all of its own since you cannot feel your way around a touchscreen. Some companies like Mazda are actually giving up on them and going back to knobs. According to Erik Shilling of Jalopnik, touchscreens in cars have been a failure:

Because when you’re banging away at your touchscreen, you’re leaning over trying to focus your eyes and brain on what you’re doing. [Mazda designer] Valbuena said that Mazda even has data that shows that people who use their touchscreen mid-drive also frequently inadvertently turn the wheel. And while most touchscreens won’t let you do every function mid-drive, enough of them let you do some functions, and leaning and pushing on a screen that may or may not work very well has never been ideal. Mazda’s solution is to take us back to a time before touchscreens, with a knob in the center console that you barely have to move at all to operate.

Mazda actually tested their cars with blindfolded people to show that you could handle all the controls without looking away from the road. "Because getting frustrated with your touchscreen and then having to refocus your eyes for the road is the worst of all worlds, and every second counts."


2019 Escalade/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

So coming down the road in February for release next year: a giant Escalade based on a Suburban, with a giant wall of a front end, now fitted with a 38 inch screen designed for distraction. No wonder people are scared to ride bikes or go for a walk.