Audi and VW Push Web-Enabled Cars

Audi Connect

Wisconsin introduced seat belt legislation in 1961. Not until 1984 did the U.S. mandate seat belt use. The same protracted battle is taking place with infotech in cars, and by most accounts, the safety guys are losing.

Audi has proudly announced it was the first luxury brand to offer Wi-Fi and Google Earth access in its cars. Nissan, GM and Ford have followed suit. Web-enabled cars are going to be a fact of life (and death), so get used to them.

The industry is loving it.

Vehicles are now viewed by automakers as entertainment and technology platforms; not transportation. The transportation part is now a given; THAT you get there is far less important than HOW you get there…

That statement is almost outrageous enough to be true. Last year, 3,092 people (9.4 percent of all road fatalities) didn’t get there at all—they were victims of distracted driving—and the total is in fact “considerably higher,” since many distracted driving crashes aren’t counted. The National Safety Council thinks 24 percent of crashes are caused by mobile-phone use.

Naturally, the auto, phone and software companies want to convince us that their distracto-tech stuff is safe, but people in the know were questioning its use as far back as 12 years ago.

Ray LaHoodSmartphones and Wi-Fi, Facebook and Twitter were never designed to be used in a car, and the regulators know this. But the Department of Transportation is holding still more hearings with inane discussions about how long a driver’s eyes can be diverted from the road.

Agency Director Ray LaHood (right) is a phony (that’s not a pun). After the NTSB late last year announced that all mobile-phone use should be banned in cars, good ol’ Ray claimed that hands-free use would actually be okay, which left the NTSB pantless and legless.

Many of us are disgusted with such delaying tactics. Even the blog writers who offer solutions point out that they are really non-solutions. See “6 Ways to End Distracted Driving.”

Let me repeat what I said the other day: All phone use should be jammed in cars unless the vehicle is parked. In addition, all in-dash displays should be turned off, and all Web connectivity terminated unless the car is off the road with the transmission in Park.

I know. There is about as much chance of that happening as global warming dissipating.

One answer to the problem of distracted driving is for sensible people to buy cars that do not have web-enabled techno-junk. Do you agree?

—jgoods

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  1. crslenorthgmail_com
    May 31st, 2012 at 21:43 | #1

    if this one more entity on a blog helps; my first blog – i think a curbing culture is where our energy needs to be put, the law on being seen by a law officer/fixed govt camera should be a large fine enforced for holding a phone up to the ear in a car, i mean independant of any traffic incident. in the event of a crash i don’t even know what to say, we have a problem. people go to jail but the accidents continue. I think a device that prevents a mobile phone from working 30cm from the steering wheel is a potential good thing. text and internet are potential death in cars. but that said pasengers with mute on can aviod being destracting (please all adopt)also cars with a call only before key-turned car kits built-into new cars. (so a person that is one who traditionally buys these kits will not be inclined too so much because, the free feature in the new wave of cars will allow you to call another phone/dial whilst parked.
    now this is for my taste alone, but i think that once the conection is made, the car can be driven, with 5% loss of concentration for the average driver, or for an adrenaline junkie michael clarkson maybe naught, but the car-kit cannot show an incoming call in anyway; no lights, sounds, vibration or way of answering or detecting any attemted incoming text or inernet for the driver, globally.

  2. Randy
    May 19th, 2012 at 06:49 | #2

    Well, unfortunately we know the problem isn’t with responsible people. They usually end up being the victims of techopunks who are driving while texting or using cell phones. I’m looking around for something I can put on my car that will jam anything within 100 feet based on an operating cell phone. Yes, it’s illegal, but using the devices is illegal too, so what’s wrong with a little self defense?
    Sooner or later, one of these goons will likely run into me, and I can assure you that I’ll sue them and the car manufacturer (if they were distracted by in-car devices). If manufacturers start losing big liability lawsuits because they insist on putting this crap in cars, it will help remove the profit incentive. Part of the problem is that Americans spend so much time in their cars that they want to make them an extension of their living room. (and in some cases, their bedrooms.) Until cars can safely drive themselves, this stuff will be a danger.

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