Carmakers evaluate audible Facebook updates as safety regulators are discouraging mobile-phone use

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 17, 2012

Amid Toyota Motor Corp.’s quest to offer the most creative new in-car technology, regulators are going the other way and are discouraging mobile-phone use. Aside from enabling drivers to make restaurant reservations on OpenTable.com and use Bing to search the Internet, regulators now have to evaluate audible Facebook updates and steering-wheel controls that enable drivers to purchase movie tickets and check stock prices. These were unveiled at the recently held International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the Detroit Auto Show.

Technology is being developed by Daimler AG to inform customers that they could bring up road information on the windshield with just a wave of the hand. Jeremy Anwyl, vice chairman of auto researcher Edmunds.com, said that it could be regulated but people are “pretty determined” to get connected wherever they are. David Strickland, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator, narrated to analysts how instead of talking, his 15-year-old triplet godchildren text each other even when they’re in front of each other.

He said that manufacturers want to capture this market composed of a widening consumer class of young people who don’t know how it is to not be connected. However, the safety rules are making it difficult for the companies.

For this year, Strickland’s agency is working to release guidelines to install the in-vehicle technologies. Last December, the NHTSA said that in 2010, driver distraction has led to 3,092 deaths, which make up 9.4% of road fatalities. QUBE, a part of automotive data provider just-auto.com, said that in 2012, there will be 5.8 million smartphone and embedded connectivity units fitted to new cars and light trucks in North America. [source: Bloomberg]

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