Despite the numerous distractions already available to keep drivers from focusing on driving, manufacturers have found yet one more way to make the roadways more dangerous: internet on the dashboard. I’ve written extensively on the dangers of texting while driving using evidence from safety advocates that have warned for some time now against using cell phones while driving. In fact, the Virginia Transportation Institute found that driving while texting increases the risk of a crash by 23 times. Nevertheless, high-tech companies are banking in on "infotainment systems" that will be placed in the front seat of automobiles.
At the Consumer Electronics Show this week, technology giants like Google and Intel demonstrated their plans to bring technology to the front seat including 10-inch screens above the gear shift showing hi-definition videos, 3-D maps, and web pages. While some of the new "infotainment systems" prevent drivers from watching videos or using other functions while driving, most cars will allow users to obtain information with a tap of a finger whether they are driving or not. For example, one system prepped for placement in Audi models will allow users to pull up information while driving. The best the system does in preventing dangerous, distracted driving is a warning message that pops up when the system is turned on that reads: “Please only use the online services when traffic conditions allow you to do so safely."
Dr. Nicholas A. Ashford a professor in technology and policy at the University of Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently stated:
“This is irresponsible at best and pernicious at worst…Unfortunately and sadly, it is a continuation of the pursuit of profit over safety — for both drivers and pedestrians.”
Ray LaHood, the Transportation Department secretary also worries about the new technology:
“The idea they’re going to load automobiles up with all kinds of ways to be distracted — that’s not the direction we’re going, and I will speak out against it."
Nevertheless, the companies involved in the creation and implementation of the new technology argue that they are merely creating helpful systems that display crucial information that consumers, particularly business people, expect from smartphones and will also come to expect from their automobiles.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.