Benjamin Franklin famously said, “He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.” However, we doubt that Franklin had considered the freedom to browse the web while driving. As in-car technology grows exponentially, the potential to offer consumer convenience is seemingly limitless. Full Internet access from within a vehicle? Totally possible. Apps that allow drivers to use social networks like Facebook and Yelp already exist. But as today’s roadways become increasingly perilous, automakers need to ask themselves if American drivers really need another distraction in the car.
Carmakers say customers are demanding these features, according to a recent New York Times article. Hyundai attracts over 100,000 subscribers per year for its Blue Link connected car system. Cadillac boasts about its CUE dashboard screen as “an iPad on wheels.” The redesigned Lexus system features a 12.3-inch screen – practically asking for drivers to get lost in the foot-long liquid crystal display.
But roadway regulators aren’t going quietly. PC Mag reports that the Department of Transportation has proposed guidelines that would block all in-vehicle communications by a driver, including texting, dialing, Internet browsing, and even entering a GPS address by hand. Auto manufacturers insist that consumers are accessing these features with their phones anyway, but the DOT also hinted at restrictions on smartphone and tablet use, too.
These restrictions have huge implications for the future of connected cars, as well as navigational GPS systems and map applications. But technology is evolving so rapidly that any legislation will likely become obsolete before it can even be enforced – which means that, for better or worse, our drivers will become more connected with the Internet and less aware of the road in front of them.
What do you all think? Will the connected car usher in a new era of road recklessness? Or do you have faith in the common sense and decency of American drivers? Weigh in on the debate by leaving a comment below.