US Automakers Offer Features to Allow Access to Facebook and Twitter
U.S. automakers realize that many Americans spend a lot of time in their cars, and they want to help make them as comfortable as possible. And keep them “wired” just as if they were at home. Although carmakers have continued to add new features that increase safety and ease the monotony of driving, such as improved airbags and voice-activated stereos, some safety advocates say they have gone too far by allowing drivers access to Facebook and Twitter when behind the wheel.
The New York Times reports automakers are planning on offering internet-based information in some of the new 2013 models. Mercedes-Benz, Acura, Honda and Subaru all have plans to include a feature in upcoming models to read Facebook posts aloud. Lexus gets even more high-tech by including a movie ticket ordering feature, restaurant lists and access to Yelp (a restaurant review system.) It’s access to the social media services, such as access to Facebook and Twitter, that have safety advocates concerned.
Leading the charge to encourage automakers to put passenger safety before consumer demand is Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. LaHood has dedicated much of his time at the helm of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to raising the awareness of distracted driving and to putting campaigns in place to help prevent distracted driving accidents.
“There’s absolutely no reason for any person to download their Facebook into the car,” LaHood said in an interview, according to the Wall Street Journal. “It’s not necessary.”
Unfortunately, LaHood’s hands are tied as far as stopping manufacturers from putting features in a car unless the DOT can demonstrate a threat to public safety. LaHood and the DOT have previously released guidelines for automakers to limit distractions, but they are just that. While federal studies are underway, LaHood is talking to auto manufacturers to urge them to at least establish an advertising campaign focused on safe use of the new features, and the dangers of distracted driving.
The New York Times reports that much of the technology is voice activated, and the auto manufacturers say that is actually safer than the drivers using their own smartphones. “They are using these apps on their smartphones, anyway,” says Jim Buczkowski, Ford’s director of electrical and electronics systems. “So how can we enable them in a nondistracting way?”
Our Binghamton auto accident attorneys applaud LaHood and the DOT for taking a closer look at these new features and working with the auto industry to ensure the features to not add to a driver’s distractions. Distracted driving has claimed too many lives in the US, and in New York, and we hope that car manufacturers keep safety in mind before releasing any new info-tainment features.
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