Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, told officials of companies including General Motors, Toyota Motor Corp., Google Inc., Samsung Electronics Co., AT&T Inc. and Apple Inc. to move faster on implementing standards to reduce driver distractions caused infotainment systems, or he will introduce legislation to regulate Internet connectivity for in-car use.
“Why is it so important for kids to drive around and update their Facebook statuses?” Rockefeller said, in a report by Automotive News. “For teenagers, it’s a way of being cool. For those of you who sell cars, it’s a way of you being cool and making a lot of money from that. How many people have died? How many people have almost died?” Rockefeller said that automakers have been putting too much emphasis on providing smartphone features and applications in in-car systems.
“I’m very unhappy,” the 76-year-old lawmaker said. “I’m very nervous, not just about deaths but about close-to-death injuries. All for the sake of outdoing each other and making more money.”
Auto executives and industry trade groups have said that consumers are going to use mobile phones in their cars regardless of what legislators or manufacturers do. Robert Strassburger, vice president of vehicle safety and harmonization at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said, “We live in a society where we demand to be connected, 24/7, 365 days a year. We have to design systems so people will want to tether their devices to their vehicles.”