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.
Smartphones 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?