U.S. traffic deaths rose again in 2016 to an estimated 40,200, the highest number in a decade, according to figures compiled by the National Safety Council.
Any number of traffic fatalities is too many; 40,200 is exponentially too many.
There are many reasons why that number is going in the wrong direction -- and many that are beyond automakers' control. But we'd like to point to one contributor that's well within the industry's domain and demands attention: the distractions caused by poorly designed human-machine interfaces.
We're looking at you, on-board mouse-type pointers, cascading drop-down menus, touch pads and touch screens. These interfaces were designed for interacting with smartphones, laptops and desktop computers, not 2-ton machines traveling 65 mph in traffic.
When it comes to operating onboard infotainment systems, the simpler the better. Knobs work. Interactive screens don't.