GM’s answers to steering-wheel clutter

DETROIT -- Steering wheels are getting cluttered.

In an attempt to keep drivers’ hands on the wheel, automakers have loaded up steering wheels with control buttons. You can choose a radio station or CD track, raise or lower the volume, shift gears, set and adjust the cruise control, start or hang up on a phone call -- all by punching buttons or moving levers on your steering wheel.

But too much of a good thing is confusing. GM engineers think the answer is to back up.

Specifically, they want to move secondary controls to the backside of the steering wheel, while leaving primary controls on the front.

Controls for cruise, for Bluetooth or other means of using the phone in the car, or for controlling what appears on the navigation screen would remain on the front of the wheel. Audio controls, for volume and to select what you’re listening to, would migrate to the back.

GM’s explanation, laid out during a series of media briefings on Chevrolet last week, makes sense to me. But what do you think?

Is this the best way to reduce the confusing array of controls on steering wheels? And what controls do you believe belong where?

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