Several car manufacturers offer some form of in-car navigation system as a built-in. Mobile devices and GPS systems provide other drivers with similar options. Today, Bing (Microsoft’s search engine) announced a deal to be the in-car search provider for Toyota’s new in-car navigation and mobile system. It’s got an in-dashboard touch-screen as well as voice capabilities.
Really, until we have good robot cars, I do not like these systems. We talk a lot about distracted driving, and banning mobile phone use and texting in cars, but these units sit in a grey area so far as those laws go. While studies show that even using hands-free units diminishes driver capacity, few laws restrict device use via voice command/hands-free systems.
And don’t kid yourself. These systems aren’t always going to be being used by the person riding shotgun, or pulled over in the mini-mart parking lot. Even when there is a non-driver using such an in-dash system, they are bright and colorful and eye-catching.
I suspect that as these dash units spread into more cars, we’ll be seeing more chaotic driving as a result. Since tracking of distracted-driving accidents tends to rely on user report – in other words, the driver has to admit what was going on – I don’t expect to see solid statistics on this any time soon.
I do intend to continue my habit of assuming all drivers on the road are crazy, whether I am driving or cycling, however.