By on October 19, 2010

A week and a half ago, when asked about automaker plans to bring in-car access to social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood told Bloomberg

I’m absolutely opposed to all of that.That would be the biggest distraction of all. All of that is well beyond the idea that you’re really trying to avoid distracted driving.

Regardless of LaHood’s ongoing campaign to curb distracted driving, the government-owned General Motors is pushing ahead with plans to integrate voice-activated Facebook and Twitter updates into its Onstar system. Onstar CEO Chris Preuss takes on LaHood’s perspective on in-car Facebook updates in the Detroit News, arguing

Not only is it safe — all things relative in the vehicle — it’s actually a benign activity
Ford doesn’t seem to completely agree, putting Facebook off-limits for its SYNC system, and pulling back its planned Twitter access to incoming tweets only. But then, SYNC already allows drivers to send pre-written responses to text messages, so it’s not entirely clear where (if anywhere) a principled line is being drawn. But with LaHood hinting at a ban on all in-car phone use (including the use of “hands-free” connections), a line may have to be drawn sooner rather than later. But where is the common ground between LaHood’s zero-tolerance approach and Detroit’s desire to tap youthful enthusiasm for wireless connectivity?
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14 Comments on “GM Shrugs Off LaHood Criticism, Moves Forward With In-Car Facebook...”


  • avatar
    microbus

    He’s right. It’s a huge issue. He doesn’t go far enough:
    - people can talk to each other in the car and distract each other.
    it’s an epidemic, no question. I think we need a distraction-free driving environment for absolute safety.
    My first reaction was that we need to put tasers into the seats and, when people try to have a conversation, zap them. But that only solves part of the problem.

    - people can look out the window and be distracted by things they see.
    - people can hear things if the window is open and be distracted.
    - people might have a stray thought and be distracted.

    The clear answer is to encase everyone in the car in a total isolation booth, so they can’t be distracted. The fact that they can’t drive is a bit of a problem, but I’m sure Mr. LaHood has some sort of idea in mind. Or not.
    Just what nanny state did this guy come from? Can we please send him back?

  • avatar

    All the car companies have to do is provide a seamless in-car WiFi or cellular connection and THE PEOPLE WILL DO THE REST.

    I don’t need this ridiculous stuff through my car’s Navigation system. BUT, if I can use my iPhone4, iPod,  laptop, etc   to access the internet at higher connection speeds, that would be worth it.

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    Let Government Motors go thru with it. It will give owners something to do while they wait for the tow truck. The times I was left stranded by my Chevy and GMC trucks the only thing I had was the stereo which I had to blare so that I could hear it while standing in the woods (not safe to wait in the vehicle).

  • avatar
    mikedt

    I’ve got to agree with LaHood. Sometime in the last decade the act of actually piloting the car has dropped too far down in the vehicle activity list if you ask me. Yes there have always been distractions but nothing so compelling as the cell phone, dvd movies and soon to come full blown internet that are now or soon to be standard equipment.
    Google and their self piloting cars can’t come soon enough. With them we can hopefully get those who don’t actually want to drive out of the equation and they can surf the web or watch movies as I pass them.

  • avatar
    JimC

    (insert name here) needs help to pull of a heist in Mafia Wars, has a record crop in Farmville, and just crashed into a tree in real life.
    Comment/Like/3 people like this.
    2 comments:
    Dude, R U OK?
    LOL how is the tree doing?

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    It’s not clear whether this access is available while the vehicle is moving (to the driver, anyway).

    The problem with distraction, as others have pointed out, is that it’s a continuum, not a dividing line. Listening to music can be distracting… But usually isn’t. But, I can listen to ‘a state of trance’ and be more alert – or listen to Orbital’s ‘Style’ and be so overwhelmed I’d be lucky to avoid an 18-wheeler. I actually pull over when that song comes on.

    How do you regulate that? I son’t think you can. Regulating causes of bad driving seems like a fool’s errand; regulating the results of distraction seems far more sane. And last time I checked, we do that already, right?

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      Good points. I think you’re probably in the small minority for whom listening can be so overwhelming as to distract other senses.
       
      For most people, even a loud stereo is just an auditory input, which replaces the sounds of the engine, wind, and road. Those three things are not really crucial to driving, so as long as you are not easily mentally distracted by the music to the detriment of your vision or mental state.
       
      Like you, I enjoy getting really into music. Sometimes after hearing an album in the car for years, I’ll blast it at home or over some headphones and it’s like hearing it for the first time. In the car, it’s just background.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Solution: Given tody’s degenerate enforcement environment, just allow allow everything; Facebook, Twitter, flat panel screens on the dash, movies projected onto the windshield.

    In exchange for such freedom, all driving activity is recorded. You’re criminally and civilly liable for any maiming and damages.

  • avatar
    nonce

    The instant someone logs onto Facebook while driving, blow up their car.

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    Fairly typical of GM to resort to this kind of gimacry to sell cars. After all they completly fail
    to sell based on value, quality and reliability even when their owner is systematically destroying
    their competitor’s reputation.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I hate Facebook, it is a stupid waste of time. People TALKING on their cell phones while driving is already dangerous enough, let alone TEXTING while driving.

    Imagine the damage, text, viewing pictures, etc will do.

    I think I am going to buy a Helicopter and stay off the roads.


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