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January 16, 2012

Cars Grow More Connected As Regulators Cry Louder for Tougher Regulations

There will be 5.8 million smartphone and integrated connectivity devices embedded in new light trucks and cars in America in 2012, according to QUBE, an England-based company. From the 4.5 million vehicles in 2011 that had the same, this is a 29 per cent increase. QUBE believes that within 14 years, virtually all new vehicles will be thus connected.

Vanessa Scholfield, a telematics and connected vehicle technology analyst for QUBE, was quoted as having said, “They [the automakers] are all looking to personalize the services you receive in the vehicle.”

However, not everyone views this progress as something that is either positive or inevitable. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has recently urged for research to be done on how connectivity devices such as Bluetooth hands-free and in-car communications systems may distract drivers.

The National Transportation Safety Board goes a few giant leaps further than does LaHood with its call for all 50 states to ban the use of handheld and hand-free connected devices. Thankfully, the NTSB has no regulatory or enforcement teeth.

Some observers argue that we need to be careful about any additional regulation. Christopher King, a Stifel Nicolaus & Co. telecommunications analyst in Baltimore, said, “Restricting what drivers should and shouldn’t do behind the wheel is ‘a slippery slope,’ It’s difficult to argue that anyone should be using Facebook while driving a car. But at some level, glancing down at a dashboard is part of driving whether it’s checking speed or air conditioning or the radio.”

There is no doubt that young drivers are the most distracted; however, there is evidence that over 60% of adults used a handheld device WHILE teaching their teenagers to drive.  Like many problems, the solution starts at home.

texting while driving

Image by Writing On The Mall

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