Staff column: Rantings and Ravings
I have been observing a trend from automobile manufacturers for a while and it ain't a good one. The straw that broke it open for me was last weekend.
There I was watching the Superbowl commercials and the game that interrupted them last Sunday. There was one where a guy and a girl were on a date and they kissed and parted. He got in his car and hit a button and asked his car for Facebook so he could find out whether or not she enjoyed the date. He drove off smiling. What if she would have said something bad? How would his driving have been then?
We have been fighting a huge battle about the distractions of texting while driving. We even have a bill in our legislature this session to limit teen cell phone use. Studies are showing how distracted driving is a major cause in accidents.
I watched a viral clip on the internet the other day about teen texting and it showed one and two word texts that had distracted the teen just long enough to cause accidents that resulted in death. Two to three seconds of not watching the road, that was all.
We adults are jumping on the band wagon about this issue. So why are we embracing car manufacturers that keep adding new gadgets to our cars that are just as bad when it comes to taking our attention off the road?
Many new cars are including a big screen to view a GPS map and driving directions while driving. Yep, you are feeling lost and unsure of yourself in a strange city and the best thing to do is spend time looking down at a screen to figure it all out. BAM!
I see one vehicle has a place for a digital photo album to flash pictures of your dog and kids, etc. Do you really need to look at your dog's face instead of the road while barreling 60 plus mph down the road?
The typical media center for a car now has so many buttons and options that you need the manual to find a new selection. Our music systems now display the album cover on a screen. I guess I would never know if I was listening to Lady Gaga or John Denver (yes I have both on my iPod play list) if I couldn't see the album cover while listening to my music.
Do you really need to stay connected to your Facebook and Twitter accounts so bad that you need to hear them while you are driving? How does one keep their focus on the road while composing a witty comeback to the post that Emily (whom you like) sends, but is going out with David (who you think is a jerk)?
I've decided that it is a conspiracy by the auto industry so they can sell more cars. They have complied to make their cars more able to withstand all types of crashes. The chances of you living through a head on crash have improved significantly in the past few years. But if you do crash you will need a new car.
Even if you just have a minor fender bender and your air bag deploys, you may need a whole new vehicle because you can't clean it up. And your new car will have more stuff in it.
If I were the car insurance industry I would be screaming loudly.
I know you may think I am really reaching here, but watch the car ads and see how many are showing their bells and whistles instead of the performance features.
If I buy a new car, I can check my Face Book, up date my twitter, find my way to an unknown destination and take a phone call while changing the song that is currently playing. And all at the same time while driving down the highway.
And I used to feel guilty playing a little air guitar to a Led Zeppelin song that came on the FM station while driving...