Even the most basic automobile is about to succumb to the stigma of added technology.
The Toyota Yaris has thrived as one of the few remaining examples of basic transportation, free from touchscreens, integrated GPS and complicated user interfaces.
Some of us just want to drive and not be distracted by unnecessary technology inside our cars, and the Yaris has fit the bill perfectly.
Safety experts, consumers and bloggers alike are taking the time to slam Toyota, because the Yaris, in Britain at least, is the first vehicle to allow drivers to send text messages while driving.
Rival automakers have come up with similar programs, but even the most liberal allow the driver only to respond with pre-programmed messages, such as, “I am driving now, will call back later.” Toyota takes it to a whole new level with the Yaris, letting drivers type and send text messages using the Touch & Go multimedia screen. No word on whether users are allowed to upload and send pictures, too, or engage in IM chat sessions while piloting the diminutive commuter on busy freeways.
Naturally, anyone with an eye out for safety is concerned that this function works when the car is on the move. Even more alarming to some is that Toyota has plans to expand it to other models.
As things currently stand, the system is not illegal, since most mobile phone laws prohibit only the use of hand-held devices. Andrew Howard, the man in charge of road safety at the British Automobile Association, fears that such a device would distract drivers, telling AE, “People will feel pressured to reply to texts and not watch the road.”
I don’t know if “pressured” is the right word, but people will certainly feel like they’ve been given permission to text while driving. A Toyota spokesperson’s justification of the technology makes the whole decision even more perplexing, saying that users have to be responsible for their own actions.
Well, yeah, that’s absolutely true, but texting while driving endangers more than just the person doing the texting. This isn’t like bicycle helmets, which endanger only the people who choose not to use them. Every other driver on the road is a potential victim for someone who thinks it’s okay to pay more attention to a screen in the car than to the road in front of it.
Do you agree with Toyota’s decision to allow texting while driving?