We’ve all seen the consequences of texting and driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has education content for public awareness campaigns. But, do you think we have a myopic focus on cell phones as the device providing the distraction? Touch screens and electronic functions built-in the latest automobiles can provide as much temptation and distraction as cell phones. Cars today come with a variety of electronic options including GPS navigation, bluetooth audio, streaming music services, and yes even texting.
My car has a text function that is part of the bluetooth handsfreelink feature. The feature only shows messages when the car is stopped. However, it will read messages out loud using a text-to-speech module when the car is in motion. I use the physical controls to manipulate the function. But wait, there’s more. This feature also allows me to select pre-written replies using the physical knobs in front of me.
I have used this feature in the past, but I’m left to wonder, why is this legal? There isn’t much difference from texting and driving from a phone keypad. I have to take my eyes off the road to read the display, turn a knob, and select a choice. That’s a distraction. That’s eyes off the road even if only for a second or two.
It’s clear the boundaries are not clearly defined when it comes to safety and automobile features. It certainly feels like automobile manufacturers are getting a pass for what a car owner would not get in the eyes of the law. I support free enterprise and profits so car makers can sell more units, but the lack of laws and regulations are too light in this area. It feels like a few tragedies waiting to happen.
A good start would be no active text functions when the car is not in park. Period.
Be smart on the road.
Onward and upward!