Eyes on the Road

As consumers clamor for more tools to help them stay connected to online media on the road, auto makers are coming under fresh pressure to minimize distracting gadgetry in new cars. "There's absolutely no reason for any person to download their Facebook into the car," U. S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in an interview. "It's not necessary. " Mr. LaHood is pushing to open new fronts in his long-running campaign against the proliferation of technology-driven diversions. In conversations with industry chief executives, Mr.

LaHood says he is making it plain he isn't pleased with the trend toward putting more media feeds and gadgetry into the cockpits of new vehicles. Mr. LaHood and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which reports to him, have the power to curb the info-tainment technology built into cars if they can demonstrate a threat to safety. He is also urging auto executives to free up advertising money to create public-service announcements that remind motorists to stay focused on the road, and not to text and drive. BMW AG is the second major car maker after Subaru to say yes.

It will launch later this month a television spot that starts with what appears to be a spoof of overprotective parents, but ends with disturbing images of a mother texting behind the wheel, oblivious to the sport utility vehicle that is about to broadside her car. BMW North America Chief Executive Jim O'Donnell says the company plans to run the spot, and related print and online advertising, through the end of the year. Agreeing to warn drivers against texting on a hand-held phone doesn't mean BMW plans to opt out of the in-car media revolution. Customers are demanding more and more information, Mr.

O'Donnell says. BMW's approach is to manage that flow, not cut it off, such as by making brief bursts of information available on head-up displays, he says. Other auto makers are trying to devise better ways to manage an increasing flow of information and entertainment, while trying to avoid running afoul of Mr. LaHood and his auto-safety regulators. General Motors Co. -- still part-owned by the government -- is promoting its youth-targeted Chevrolet Cruze compact with an ad that highlights a Facebook-update feature, delivered by a voice program through the car's Onstar communication system.

A GM spokesman says Onstar's Facebook application, which drivers can use with a push of one button while they keep their eyes on the road, is still in the "beta" test phase. No decision has been made to roll it out broadly. Mr. LaHood's department aims to finish work by early next year on a new set of guidelines governing the design and operation of in-vehicle communications technology, including studies of whether simply making communication via text or voice "hands free" makes a significant difference in safety.

Some studies have suggested that having a phone conversation is just as distracting to a driver using a headset or an audio system as for someone holding a phone. Anyone who has driven a new car decked out with the latest technology knows it is possible for a driver to get a dizzying amount of information about the vital signs of the car, its location, the types of music available from various sources, who's calling on the phone, or even whether a car is hiding in the blind spot. Dictating commands into voice-activated navigation devices or telephone interfaces can be an involved process, especially for owners new to the gadgetry.

At the same time, commuting in a modern luxury car -- or even a new compact car -- can be a passive, dull experience. The cruise control can manage the speed. The transmission shifts itself. The scenery is the same as it was the day before. Small wonder that even drivers who know better are tempted to sneak a peek at the BlackBerry or hunt for a new audio book on the iPod. And the number of new vehicles equipped with advanced in-vehicle info-tainment systems could more than triple by 2017 to more than 60 million a year world-wide, with more than 17 million in North America, says analyst Egil Juliussen of consultancy IHS iSuppli.

Mr. LaHood compares the effort to change public attitudes toward distracted driving to the long-running efforts to change attitudes and behavior related to drinking and driving. The Transportation Department's 2012 budget requests about $50 million to expand efforts to ticket people texting while driving, following the example of the "Click It or Ticket" campaigns that helped boost seat-belt use to about 85% in 2010. Still, Mr. LaHood says he knows what he's up against in the fight against distracted driving.

"We know people are hooked on cellphones and texting devices. " he says. White, J. (2011, Jun 01). Eyes on the road: U. S. presses to rein in web gadgets in new cars. Wall Street Journal, pp. D. 1-D. 1. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/869391215? accountid=15136 1. What are the environmental factors that the auto industry is responding to? 2. What ethical issues are the automobile industry dealing with and what, in your opinion, are some ways to resolve them?

3. Do you think it is enough for the Secretary of Transportation to express concern about a perceived safety issue or will the government need to do more to protect citizens? 4. I have been rear-ended three times by people talking on cell phones. Please share your experiences and thoughts on distracted driving and how society should deal with it. 1. While trying to maintain safety regulations in place for drivers, the auto industry are also trying to stay ahead with the constant need for technology and social media to be available to users.

In order to comply with the Transportation Department, they will need to find safe ways to include this new technology. This would mean adding hands free texting and calling, even integrating Facebook, while following the laws in place against distracted driving. For example, B While trying to maintain safety regulations in place for drivers, the auto industry is also trying to stay ahead with the constant need for technology and social media to be available to users. In order to comply with the Transportation Department, they will need to find safe ways to include this new technology.

This would mean adding hands free texting and calling, even integrating Facebook, while following the laws in place against distracted driving. For example, “BMW's approach is to manage that flow, not cut it off, such as by making brief bursts of information available on head-up displays” (par. 6). Having this new technology available to drivers does pose a risk for more distraction, but if designed properly will be able to give consumers access to the social media and entertainment, while keeping the road safe. 2. Should we focus more on safety, or style?

This is one of the ethical issues auto industries are battling with. Trying to find a way to include these new technological features, and promote public safety simultaneously. However, there are ways to encourage and ensure customers to drive safely, while enjoying the luxury of sending a quick text, or making a phone call hands free. BMW will be running an ad campaign to make drivers aware of the risks that distracted driving present. This ad will show that a concerned mother is just as likely to be involved in an accident caused by a distracted driver, as your average socially driven teenager.

This is a great strategy, because, not only will they be able to advertise their new hands on features, but also make the public aware of the danger caused by distracted driving. 3. There are already laws restricting the use of cellphones while driving. Understanding the public’s need for communication, companies have found a way around this by coming out with hands free options for drivers. This tactic, however, does not keep the driver from becoming distracted.

The use of hands free calling or Bluetooth simply just gives the driver use of both hands and does not mean that the person using this device will be more focused on their driving. In my opinion, there should be laws in place detailing when and where these hands free devices may be used while driving. This along with public safety awareness campaigns, and the support of not only the government, but the manufacturers of these products would help improve the safety of commuters. 4. Although there are many people who may not take it seriously, distracted driving is an important issue.

Even though using your cellphone while driving is illegal, however, there are thousands of people who do not adhere to this law. In consequence to this, there are multiple collisions, sometimes fatal due to someone using their cellphone instead of paying attention to the road, or even checking a text message at a stop light. This should be a main concern to the public. I feel that the law against texting and driving should be more strictly enforced. Drivers should be made more aware of the cause and effect of distracted driving.