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Baby you can drive my car – and text and talk and surf, all at once

Submitted by on Sunday, 10 January 2010 No Comment

I love technology. I really do.

I even love technology in cars. It came in handy back in September, when I frantically searched on my Blackberry for an open tire store after Dad had already driven way too many miles on a spare when we had a blowout in the middle of no where.

What I don’t love: Some of the latest products on display last week at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, including a monitor that fits neatly in the dashboard, just to the right of the steering wheel.

The Washington Post says Ford has a line ready to roll that will include dashboard monitors allowing drivers to use Twitter or Facebook and stream music from behind the wheel. Tweet and drive? I have trouble even working and tweeting – I have to sign off for a while on days when I have deadline work.

According to The New York Times, Audi will offer a system this fall that will let people surf the Web as they drive. Audi assures us that the set-up was tested for safety. It will even include a warning: “Please only use the online services when traffic conditions allow you to do so safely.”

Yeah, right.

As if we don’t have enough to worry about with other drivers yapping on the phone or tapping out a text while they’re swigging coffee and changing lanes, now we’re going to add Web surfing to the mix.

It appears the tech industry missed on all those studies, including one released just a few months back that called texting while driving more dangerous than drinking while driving.

Never mind that if setup’s streaming movies it would be illegal in states including California, though the law changed here at the beginning of the year to allow front-seat screens as long as they’re not visible to the driver.

Ford and Audi both told the Times that they tweaked their systems to cut down on the amount of time drivers spend looking at the screen. Problem is, no one knows how long drivers can safely look at screens – or if they can at all. Some research suggests the latter.

Yet, as soon as the gee-whiz models roll into the showrooms, they’ll start rolling off lots. They’ll become status symbols and must-haves. Some poor schmuck who gets plowed by someone who’s so important he can’t stay offline for a few minutes will get left holding the bag.

I just hope it’s not one of my kids in a body bag.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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