Do heads-up displays cause distractions?

On Behalf of | Sep 24, 2021 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Most drivers happily welcome technological advances when it comes to the safety of their vehicles. Whether it is their commute to work, drive to the grocery store or trip across the country, individuals feel encouraged by the active safety features provided by various advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). A heads-up display (HUD), though, might fit into a different category.

Designed to collect data from the vehicle’s various systems and present it to the driver in an easy-to-process manner, a camera in the dashboard projects the HUD information against the windshield directly in the driver’s field of vision. The reasoning behind this is clear – the less time the driver needs to look away from the road to the dashboard instrumentation panel the safer he or she is.


Unfortunately, the presentation of information in this way can be counter-productive. An HUD can cover a broad range of information, including:

  • Current speed and speed limit
  • Engine tachometer readings
  • Interior and exterior temperatures
  • Audio information such as song name and volume display
  • GPS driving directions
  • Follow-distance warnings

The problem inherent in this system is the volume of data the vehicle provides. While drivers might not technically be looking down at their phone GPS or dashboard audio system, they are still looking away from the road and the traffic in front of them. They might miss suddenly slowed traffic or a vehicle emerging from a blind spot. They might miss someone attempting to cross the street.

Whether it is designed to be helpful or not, any activity that pulls a driver’s attention and focus from their primary task is considered a distraction. Distracted drivers can cause severe collisions resulting in devastating property damage and catastrophic injuries. Drivers are cautioned to rely on their ADAS features sparingly and to remain firmly in control of their own vehicle.