A blessing or a curse? Like many choices in 21st century America, it will be your call.
A new dashboard app from General Motors Co. that lets drivers order food or browse hotels while behind the wheel has been met with concerns from a prominent safety group.
National Safety Council President Deborah Hersman expresses concerns that the new app will contribute to distracted driving, already a factor in a quarter of all vehicle crashes. Hersman also says that the app also will hurt efforts to reduce rising auto fatalities, which grew 5.6 percent from 2015 to more than 37,000 in the United States.
“There’s nothing about this that’s safe,’’ Hersman said. “If this is why they want Wi-Fi in the car, we’re going to see fatality numbers go up even higher than they are now.’’
The app, dubbed Marketplace, allows drivers to browse deals and place orders through an in-dash touchscreen, connecting to major chains and businesses including Starbucks, TGI Friday’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Priceline.
GM launched the app on millions of 2017 and 2018 cars equipped with Wi-Fi hotspots and compatible systems late last year. The automaker’s goal is to provide a simpler, safer alternative to using smartphones when placing mobile orders, according to a company spokesperson.
GM claims its app has a limit of three or four steps a user must complete to make an order and adds that the device is in accordance with voluntary driver-distraction guidelines agreed to by car companies.
The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking, texting, eating, drinking, and fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system.
Texting is considered the most alarming distraction, according to the NHTSA. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for approximately five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that’s like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed, according to the NHTSA.
These sorts of systems will probably become even more convenient as the technology improves and more companies add them to car packages. But making the systems work better just means that more people will use them, thereby increasing the potential for distraction.
As technological advances continue to be adopted by auto manufacturers, the need for responsibility increases. In the event of an auto accident caused by distracted driving, you should seek the advocacy of an experienced attorney. Contact attorney Jon Hawk in Macon, Georgia and find out how we can help.