By on June 9, 2011

I’m not in the business of helping people Tweet better, I’m not in the business of helping people post to Facebook better. My job is to make sure we keep people safe behind the wheel. I’m not going to deny the fact that people want these things. They do. Especially the generation behind us. They’re used to being connected 24 hours a day.

A car is not a mobile device — a car is a car. We will not take a backseat while new telematics and infotainment systems are introduced. There is too much potential for distraction of drivers.

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland took the war on distraction to the enemy in a speech to an auto technology conference, reports Bloomberg. With nearly every manufacturer racing towards ever greater implementation of connectivity, communication and entertainment systems in cars, Strickland’s rhetorical line in the sand foreshadows a serious confrontation between industry and government. Either that, or this is just Ray LaHood-style hot air calculated to make it look like something’s happening.

In any case, the industry has yet to develop a concerted strategy to deal with what has thus far been a largely rhetorical government assault on its new(ish) cash cow. But if Strickland keeps suggesting specific action, the OEMs (who are pledging cooperation) will want to agree on a line of their own (with statistics to back it up) where they can stand together. Thus far that line seems to be “hands free,” but the statistics there don’t seem strong enough to hold off a regulatory offensive. On the other hand, this is clearly another one of those policy discussions that draws a wide variety of responses


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13 Comments on “Quote Of The Day: This Car Is Not A Mobile Device Edition...”

  • avatar

    I see people in front of me and coming towards me multitasking all the time now, all the time. You see more cars now wandering across the yellow line, stopped at green lights, hitting the brakes hard behind you because they were texting or some such thing. You have to be constantly vigilant and simply cannot trust people to be attending to their driving as much as might have been the case in the past. It’s actually getting a bit ridiculous.

    I honestly don’t know what the best answer is to all this, but if it continues the way it’s going, the roads are going to start becoming more and more dangerous.

    • 0 avatar

      This is absurd. Deaths on the road have been on a steady decline for decades.

      Go hyperventilate about «more and more dangerous» somewhere where people don’t know arithmetic, please.

      • 0 avatar

        Not all road safety issues need involve fatal collisions. Automobile accidents often result in long-term, chronic injuries and disabilities that can be detrimental to quality of life, not to mention the extra costs to insurance, and so on that follows being in a accident. (My wife still suffers from a neck injury she received in an accident more than fifteen years ago.)

        Take off your self-serving, narrowly focused blinders and actually try to think before you speak.

        p.s., If you can show me that accident and injury rates have also dropped in recent years (since the advent of texting and so on), then not only would I be very surprised, but I would definitely have to reassess and likely revise my views on this.

  • avatar

    Amen Ed, my latest punch-worthy distracted driving incident occurred last Sunday when a guy with a cell phone in his ear blew a red light in front of me. My stupidity detection radar was functioning so I avoided adding a crushed door on his car to his startled and vacant look.

  • avatar
    SVX pearlie

    A car is not a mobile device?

    OK, tho my BMW E60 with iDrive begs to differ…

    If NHTSA didn’t have the power they had, they’d be even more of a laughingstock.

    Why is it that Transportation & NHTSA can’t have some minimal requirement for brains & common sense?

  • avatar

    I hate the things. I barely find my CD player useful, let alone a nav computer.

  • avatar
    M 1

    Damn kids and their new-fangled thinky-boxes!

  • avatar
    John R

    I can’t go 3 days without being a witness to some cellphone related retardation out on the road. If this gets much worse I’m investing in a cell phone jammer. They’re not expensive, but for some the operating radius could be better.

  • avatar

    I was reading the headline for this before the pix loaded (slow net day, apparently) and thinking to myself how apt a photo of the Nissan Cube would be here. And when the image loaded, voila! A Cube video!

    Interestingly, the Cube “Mobile Device,” (as it is officially labeled on the dealer sticker, I’ll have you know,) includes Bluetooth hands-free phone ability on all (or all but the base?) models. We use it in ours every day.

    As for texting, we don’t do that unless we absolutely can’t get in touch with someone any other way (usually because they’ve forgotten that a phone is for…and I know this is a surprise…phone calls!) and we most definitely don’t do it behind the wheel. And we’re what the media would call “Generation Y” or whatever. So take comfort knowing some of us are actively resisting the temptations to drive while distracted by electronic bits and bobs.

  • avatar

    Ahhh…to drive in silence most of the time with no radio or CD and especially not on the phone – especially the phone, as I have an eye issue and need to keep my focus on driving and not being distracted for any reason – ever!

  • avatar

    I have to admit that I’m torn on this one….

    This really seems like over-regulation to me, and one that would stifle inovation. I know the numbers are not overwhealming, but I have to look at the hands-free technologies and navigation system integrations as being safer alternatives to having seperate, hand-held (or window suction cupped) devices.

    On the other hand, I’ve seen the red-light running and yellow line crossing that everyone else has and is just as concerned. Distractions are clearly a problem and becoming more numerous.

    I would have a hard time supporting regulation against system expansion until we’ve gotten a better handle on texting and driving, etc. One thing at a time.

  • avatar

    When I call or get a call from someone who is driving, I say “let’s talk later.” Their excuse is always “but I’m hands-free.” My response is “Are you also brains-free? Pull over, or call me when you’re done driving.” That usually gets a laugh and a call back.

    It’s really the same-old government intervention vs. rights of the individual debate that’s been going on for about 50 years. The dangers are real and NHTSA has very good intentions, but no one has figured out how to regulate common sense. When faced with how to use all this technology, the practical answer is very simple: PULL YOUR DAMNED CAR OVER TO THE SIDE OF THE ROAD!

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