There was a time when TVs were big boxes that were only limited to your own home. The screens were simply too bulky and heavy because of the cathode ray tube (CRT) technology. – Now if you are familiar with the thick televisions of yesteryear, congratulations because you witnessed a turning point in history where digital media came to rule the roost.
Nowadays screens can be as thin as a piece of paper. Manufacturers find that it is no trouble to fit in a display almost anywhere. They could be formed in any shape as well depending on the display technology used. It’s not limited to the boxiness that once pervaded the CRT TVs, now you can find a screen anywhere, even on your infotainment system.
For some cars, there is a screen for the rear passengers to watch media on. These screens are perfect for entertaining both kids and adults on long drives. For shorter distances however, you’d probably not be able to finish a movie. There is no dilemma here. If the screen is behind the driver, it’s all well and good.
So what about the front where the driver can see it? Let’s say you have a sedan, and space is limited. It’s logical to use the existing screen and wire it to a receiver that can catch signals from local TV networks. One can argue that it doesn’t take much effort to watch or passively watch your favorite dramas while stuck in stop and go traffic. At least in the Philippines, the common practice is to install a TV-box that receives broadcasts from local networks and a display.
We’d like to argue against that
Distracted driving is dangerous, no matter how fast you can shift your attention from the screen to the road. Putting a screen up front where the driver may potentially get distracted is a cause for alarm. There is a reason why manufacturers don’t add TV tuners into their cars no matter how big the screen gets. If there is a screen that is capable of video, its expected audience is for the passengers at the back.
This doesn’t stop the aftermarket because with the right tools and devices, a TV receiver can be installed to display your favorite teleseryes in the infotainment system. It’s a relatively simple operation, but again, we’d like to advise against it.
Picture this, you’re on your way home from a long day at work, getting stuck in traffic. You turn on the infotainment screen to get to the TV receiver. Your favorite drama comes on, there is a dramatic scene that unfolds right before your eyes. As you reach the climax of the scene you fixate your attention to the center of the dash to take in every possible detail and happening. Then the unthinkable happens. You almost hit the car in front of you. So what if you did hit the car? You better have insurance.
Even if you’re not looking at it
There is also the matter of screen brightness and glare. Most cars can dim the interior lights when the front lamps are turned on in low light. Even so, when something as action packed as an explosion appears on screen the sudden flash could distract your peripheral vision. When merging into the right lane, something flashy may come on screen that distracts you enough to make a mistake.
There is also the issue of sound. If a loud noise that is coming from the program startles you, then that could affect your driving. If you’re trying to listen intently to the conversation that is happening on the TV screen, then you better be stopped on the side of the road. Also note that increasing the volume in your car might also distract you from what’s happening around the vehicle. You might not be able to hear the blaring sound of a horn or an ambulance that could be asking you to move over. This is also assuming that TV receivers don’t receive the highest resolution audio and video because the signal is weak or the receiver is not that good to begin with. It could require more of your attention in order to understand what is happening on screen.
Are video players out too?
Even though you are assured that there is added clarity because it is a local file and not one that comes from a TV station, it goes to reason that you have to keep your attention fixated on the road.
Also watching Youtube videos on your phone, even on a phone mount, is mostly the same deal; meaning it shouldn’t be done. Even if a new AutoDeal Behind the Wheel episode gets uploaded on the channel, save it for later and save yourself the hassle of getting into an accident. Then again, traffic seems to be pretty bad as it is already. Here is an alternative, if you can listen to an ebook, it allows you to take into information and is an alternative to music; or you can just stick to music. It is important to make sure that your in-car entertainment isn’t intrusive enough to distract you. It is also important that you focus on the road.
When it comes to auditory forms of media, it’s best to keep your volume down. Also keep your eyes on the road and clear of any distractions. Navigation apps and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in your head unit is unobtrusive enough because the interface is made to be easily visible at a glance. When it comes to TVs that demand attention, it’s a different story since you have to pay attention to even understand what is happening in order to enjoy it. If you can’t enjoy what you paid money to install, then what’s the point?
In short, if the screen is behind the driver, it’s one hundred percent alright. If in the dashboard, it’s unadvisable. We’re not out to target those that have TVs in your car, but it will be best to always stay safe and practice distraction-free driving at all times, you could save yourself a lot of damage on your car for minor bumps because of distracted driving, or you can save a life by paying full attention while commanding a metal projectile.
If you already have a TV installed in your car, then practice discipline, and only use it when parked or resist the temptation to glance at what is happening if it is in use by other occupants. You and your passengers are safer without one up front however. If you are planning to have a unit installed, make sure it’s for passenger consumption only and does not fall in the line of sight of the driver. Drive safely and don’t underestimate your attention span because an accident can happen when you least expect it.