Even as transportation officials and car accident lawyers warn about the increasing risk of distractions from an overload of technology in automobiles, auto makers continue to pile on the gadgetry.
A new range of automobiles is all set to roll out into showrooms and onto the road, all of them packed with highly distracting communication and entertainment technology. For instance, Volkswagen is all set to roll out a new Audio model that includes access to Wi-Fi and Google Earth. Advertisements are being designed around the accessibility to Wi-Fi and Google Earth, and customers are being targeted through not-so-subtle messages that inform them that they can be much more connected
when they’re driving this particular model. Similarly, General Motors, and Ford Motor Company have also rolled out vehicles that allow motorists to access Twitter, Facebook and Google while driving.
In fact, most automakers seem to be involved in a race to pack as much distracting technology in their cars as possible. This trend has not gone unnoticed at federal transportation safety agencies. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, if automakers were as interested in equipping their vehicles with advanced safety technologies as they are with adding communication and entertainment gadgets, then more lives could be saved every year.
Some transportation safety officials are acting to limit the damage. Transportation Sec. LaHood is pushing for guidelines which would set strict limitations on the kind of distracting technologies that are present in cars. For instance, according to the guidelines, the use of this technology must not take a driver more than 2 seconds. The guidelines also require that cars must be in stop or park mode, before a motorist can use networking sites like Facebook or Twitter, or use the GPS system.
In 2010, more than 3,000 people were killed in accidents caused by distracted driving. However, it is highly likely that the numbers of people being killed in accidents is actually much higher. The system for reporting of distracted driving-related accidents around the country is inadequate, and it’s highly likely that many accidents are going unreported.