Amid the excitement of the arrival of Web-enabled cars at U.S. showrooms, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is pushing guidelines that attempt to control these in-dash distractions. According to these guidelines, drivers shouldn’t take longer than 2 seconds for any of these tasks. Cars would also have to be stopped and already parked before users could enter navigation commands or use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Critics are warning that these vehicles enabled for Wi-Fi, Facebook and Twitter would prove to be disastrous as the drivers would be distracted and this could lead to accidents on the road.
Audi’s ads call for customers to “Google it,” referring to the access to Wi-Fi and Google Earth from inside the vehicle. Meanwhile, Nissan Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. are interested in in-car systems that make Google, Facebook and Twitter accessible. National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman said that plenty of lives would be saved if the auto manufacturers put as much thought on safety as on the marketing of products.
Hersman is advocating a ban on in-car mobile phone use even with hands-free devices. However, these guidelines don’t recommend placing limits on devices. As a result, automakers applaud LaHood’s intention to protect drivers while installing and marketing various features. A few days ago, LaHood said that automakers have to make sure that drivers’ eyes and attention stay on the road.