Cars are becoming increasingly connected and there can be little doubt that this opens drivers up to all kinds of new distractions. Some new cars can now check your Facebook account and read updates out aloud. Others connect you to your personalized music stations on Pandora or let you browse through your locally stored music collection through one of the many little screens that now grace many cars instead of the traditional analog dials. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, however, thinks that all of these electronics are just too distracting and, according to the Wall Street Journal, is pressuring car manufacturers to minimize “gadgetry in new cars.” Indeed, LaHood told the Wall Street Journal that “there’s absolutely no reason for any person to download their Facebook into the car. It’s not necessary.”
While it would be easy to brand LaHood as a Luddite who doesn’t want people to “download their Facebook,” there can be little doubt that the car manufacturers haven’t yet figured out a way to smoothly integrate all of these new bells and whistles into the regular driving experience. Ford’s SYNC, for example, only allows drivers to access certain functions through voice control while the car is moving. These systems can be frustrating, however, as even the best voice recognition is still prone to making errors – which will likely distract the driver even more.
Given the long development cycles in the car industry, it will take a bit before we get advanced Internet-connected in-car infotainment systems that feel as integrated into the driving experience as today’s basic car radios. It’s not about Facebook, though.
There is no reason why a status update from Facebook that’s automatically streamed to your car should be any more distracting than listening to a morning zoo radio program. The car industry, sadly, hasn’t quite figured out how to do this, yet.