What do we define as distraction? Is it additional information that is processed thus slowing a drivers perception/response to the outside environment? If so then more detailed information being displayed on windshields of new vehicles could be viewed as distractions.
In a March, 2019 article by Dan Carney of the Automotive Engineering magazine discussing head-up-displays (HUD) the market for greater information being displayed on vehicle windshields revealed that more information of greater brightness is expected in the future.The article quoted other research sources that indicated the worldwide HUD market in 2017 was 2.9 billion and would rise to 18 billion by 2027. Improvements in the image quality and size being projected on windshields mean than more information will be able to be moved from the instrument cluster and onto the windshield. As noted in the article:
“Larger and brighter full-colour displays provide the opportunity to move more driver information off the instrument panel and onto the windscreen, where it can be seen more effortlessly by the driver. In addition to the typical digital speed reading, the HUD can convey data about the current speed limit, adaptive cruise control system’s status, indicate turn signal use, and flash collision-avoidance warnings. In manual-transmission-equipped sports cars, HUDs provide upshift lights light those in Formula 1 race cars.”
There can be a conflict between useful information and too much information, even when the information being displayed appears to be relevant to the driving task. When a driver needs to detect information about the exterior environment he/she does not need to know that the turn signal has been activated or other non-emergency information. While some information is nice to have, too much information can also distract the driver from detecting the most important information for the current scenario at hand. This can be no different than texting on a smartphone as some portion of the driver’s information processing is taken away from detecting the most relevant information.