RAC Cars News


Safety Risk With Google And Apple In-Car Technology

By raccars Published

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Motoring experts are warning that hi-tech in-car control systems, such as those by Apple and Google, could pose a safety risk. Car manufacturers believe 'smart dashboard' technology could generate revenue but there is concern that drivers could be distracted by large screens.

However, the new technology includes voice activated controls and larger screens, which manufacturers claim is a safer way for drivers to interact with technology than smaller mobile phones. The issue has provoked a significant public debate in the US, with legislators struggling to determine what level of interactive technology is appropriate for use while driving.

Scientists who have studied how drivers get distracted point out that no matter how large the screen, interacting with technology means drivers are inevitably forced to take their eyes from the road to use them. Research suggests that it takes, on average, four seconds to read a text message, which is one of the functions the new technology could offer, but which is too long to safely look away from the road.

Nonetheless, manufacturers are forging ahead with the development of new interactive multimedia systems for new cars, attracted by the potential boost to revenue. The technology would allow drivers to sync their mobile phones with their cars and browse social media via the dashboard. To make the technology more functional, there are systems which will read text messages to drivers from their smartphones, and these are features which manufacturers hope will become part of the decision making process for potential buyers when choosing cars.

Market research firm, J.D. Power, recently conducted a study which suggested that 15% of consumers would discount buying a particular model of new car if it lacked modern technology. A year earlier, only 4% of customers considered technology a deal breaker when choosing a new car.

There is, as yet, very little regulation surrounding the use of interactive dashboard displays. In certain US states, there are laws in place permitting the use of navigation videos only while driving. There is also some legislation requiring adjustable brightness on screens. Car makers are following a few self-imposed guidelines but no industry standards have been imposed. Safety groups are calling for mandatory regulation on how functions can be performed. Insurance firms have remained out of the debate so far and claim the only impact of large interactive screens upon policy rates would be due to the risk of theft.

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