Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A dash-board smart phone?

 I have to admit, I am addicted to my Blackberry. It's never more than an arm's reach from me - even when I am in bed. It has Twitter, Facebook, CNN, Washington Post, and of course texting.  I started using it as my alarm clock when mine broke about 2 years ago.  So, yah, I'm addicted.  But I try not to use it in the car.
Here they recently passed a law against using a hand held phone while driving.  Texting while driving is illegal everywhere, or at least it should be.  It's pretty easy to spot someone who is texting or talking.  6 chances in 7 if someone is swerving they aren't drunk, they're on the phone.

Just recently I saw an article on CNN.com  "Will your next car be a smartphone?"  They are putting Facebook (voice operated) and twitter and other web applications on a touch screen in the dash of the car.  I have one word for that .  YIKES!  My next word ... gimme :)  (The last one comes from the little tech-child in me.)

According to the article: "Ford, General Motors and several other automakers are pitching the systems as a safer and easier way to let drivers do what many of them are already doing -- using their smart phones while driving."  Apparently, they think they can make it safer.  I think this is a little like making drunk driving safer by putting shot glasses in the steering wheel.

Studies show that talking on cell phones, regardless if it is hands-free or hand-held, reduces speed of information processing.  So, chances are putting it in the dash is not going to make texting any safer - even if it is done by voice.
According to Edgar, Snyder & Associates
  • In 2005, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 10% of drivers are on handheld or hands free cell phones at any given hour of the day. 
  • 4 out of every 5 accidents (80%) are attributed to distracted drivers. In contrast, drunk drivers account for roughly 1 out of 3 (33%) of all accidents nationally
  • The majority of Americans believe that talking on the phone and texting are two of the most dangerous behaviors that occur behind the wheel. Still, as many as 81% of drivers admit to making phone calls while driving. 
  • Studies have found that texting while driving causes a 400% increase in time spent with eyes off the road. 
"We saw this trend of mobile devices increasing, and we said this is an area where we can offer the customers a safer way to use those in the car," said Ford spokesman Alan Hall.

I'm sure that's exactly what a car company who was barely surviving on the billions of dollars in money from the government was thinking... safety.   Technology is a great thing.  It keeps us in touch, for better or worse, in ways we would not have been before.  It has changed our world. 

I just hope we don't start putting Internet in the shower. 


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