Quote Of The Day: Hands Free At High Speeds Edition
[Skip ahead to 2:08 (or don’t)]
It’s the stuff of a Ray LaHood nightmare. Automotive News [sub]’s lede comes screaming out of the blackness:
BERLIN — Ford Motor Co. has adapted its Sync in-car connectivity system to cope with high speeds on German autobahns.
But you can’t wake up, Mr Secretary of Transportation. For this is no dream…
Luckily, it is happening far away in Germany… and Ford’s not even doing all that much to change its hands-free entertainment and communication system. Per Jason Johnson, user interface design engineer for Sync product development,
Ford had to do more than simply program the technology to understand different European languages. The system also has to allow for how Europeans drive… For instance, at autobahn speeds, Ford found that its navigation system wasn’t giving sufficient warning that the desired exit was coming up. The system had to be reprogrammed to give extra warning
Otherwise, Germans should feel free to use their hands-free systems at whatever speed they happen to be driving. After all, if your hands are on the wheel, it’s not a distraction, amiright? Ray? Anybody?
I'm firmly in the "don't like Ray LaHood" camp, but I agree that touch screen controls on a car are an abomination. IF you can't feel the buttons, you therefore MUST look to touch it. If you're looking at the touchscreen, you're not looking at the road. Guaranteed fail.
If there is anyone who can use this system without causing a pile up or end up driving like an idiot, it's the Germans. Bar none, the best drivers in the world, end of story. For one thing if they use the Sync system you can bet their hands will be on the wheel (always at 9 and 3)and not on a monster coffee mug or tapping away on a cell phone. I can confidently predict the accident rate would be far less than here in NA.
All that BS about conducting data-driven studies might mean something if his department hadn't conducted the Toyota UA witch hunt. I think we already know the results of the DOT distracted-driving study: more regulation and/or laws against it. The following piece, from 3:45 - 6:00 addresses increasing public subsidies for the Allegheny County mass transit system here in western Pennsylvania. He implies that ridership is down because the gov't doesn't provide enough subsidy for this lousy system. The facts are that this system has one of the highest fare rates in the country, a strong union-driven cost structure, and a population base that is 1/2 of its level 40 years ago - and yet people expect service to remain the same. Mr. LaHood's unsurprising answer is that he'll just continue propping it up with taxpayer money.
Here in Seattle, we have fares of $2.50 for a single zone ride, $3.00 for 2 zone fares, but if you are traveling through downtown Seattle, it's a ride free zone and yet, the buses are often FULL in the afternoons on many routes, often to standing room only, the early morning routes such as the 212 out to Bellevue from the transit tunnels is often partially filled (I get on at 7AM and arrive at my place of work by 7:22-7:25AM) but I bet later 212 buses are MUCH more full than when I take it. Metro Transit in Seattle is heavily commuter ridership if that's anything.