Icons inside new cars tell us they’re complicated

After you’ve glanced at the sticker price of a new car, you may next notice the array of icons.

Hot coffee. Or the letter P with a triangle. A bag holding an exclamation point. Or just a series of lines. These icons have migrated to the steering wheel, seat sides, overhead, even into the back seats.

They signify advanced systems that improve vehicle safety — but also confuse many drivers.

Two in five car owners, said their vehicle operated in a manner they did not expect, according to a survey by University of Iowa’s Public Policy Center.

The uncertainty has driven the National Safety Council to create an interative website, My Car Does What?

The proliferation of technologies and the lack of standardization among automakers, who use different terminology — and different icons — causes much of the confusion, said Alex Epstein at the National Safety Council. “It’s like the Wild West out there.”

— Chicago Tribune