Automakers testing ‘heads up' display technology

Example of a "Heads Up" display
Example of a "Heads Up" display (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

WPRI – PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — All drivers know the phrase "keep your eyes on the road." But what if you could do that, while simultaneously reading directions or looking at the speedometer?

Some cars are now coming with heads up displays, which project information on the windshield in the driver's line of sight.

Jerry Greenfield, a pilot, said he has had a lot of experience with heads up displays. "You see the flight instruments, you'll see your airspeed," he said.

Today – many manufacturers are building similar displays into cars.

"If you think about it, when you look at your speed gauges or your navigation screen you are taking yours eyes off the road even if it's only for a brief moment," explained Ron Montoya of Edmunds.com.

And believe it or not – some automakers are even testing displays that would allow a driver to receive and respond to texts or post to social media while driving.

"The technology seems promising, and it seems to sort of integrate a couple of smartphone features which we're not really getting from the factory systems," Montoya said.

According to AAA's director of traffic safety, heads up displays do have the potential to make drivers safer behind the wheel – but more testing is needed to study the impact they have on driver distraction.

"The risk though is that if we are projecting information on the windshield or in the forward driving environment that isn't integral to the core task of driving, then we're overloading the driver." Montoya said.

Right now, heads up displays are really only built into a small number of cars, mostly high-end models. But officials said that if the technology gains popularity – prices will come down.