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Transportation Secretary LaHood Says "It's Not Necessary!"

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On: Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 2:38PM | By: Chris Weiss

Transportation Secretary LaHood Says "It's Not Necessary!"

You don't have to be the #1 transportation authority in the United States to know that in-vehicle Facebook and Twitter are big, unnecessary advances with "potential devestating danger" written all over them. But it's nice to have him on your side.

Ever since I saw the first mention of Facebook in a car, I've been pretty fearful of the future of our roadways. What we need is fewer distractions in cars, not more distractions with possibly safer, definitely more complicated and technological form factors. We need people focusing on road signs and surrounding traffic, not on the latest viral video or "breaking" friend news. Unfortunately, the auto industry seems determined to ride the popularity of social media in selling cars. At least Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is on our team.

LaHood told the Wall Street Journal in a succinct, definitive statement: "There's absolutely no reason for any person to download their Facebook into the car. It's not necessary."

Now, despite the fact that you don't really download Facebook (he's the Transportation Secretary, not the Technology Secretary, after all), LaHood is absolutely right. Every time I see that godawful-stupid commercial featuring what reminds me of a younger, cleaner Bam Margera getting off his first date and into his car, I'm sent into an infuriated rage. Said young Bam sits in his car, starts driving, and immediately checks his voice-activated Facebook news feed via his Chevy Cruze to see what his date said about him (she liked him incidentally—"best first date ever," in fact).

Now there's already a few things wrong with that. A: She would have had to turn around immediately after saying goodbye on her front stoop and either run upstairs to post on the computer or whip out her phone on the way up to get that post up within the 10-second time frame depicted. That doesn't say "great first date," that says scary, stalker chick that hasn't dated in years. B: If this news feed was so important, why didn't dude check it before he started driving, so he could do a little victory dance without being distracted from actual driving?

What's really wrong with this commercial, though, is the obnoxious ending line: "When the good news just can't wait." Really, Chevy? Ensuring that your puppy-dog crush had a swell time on your date is the type of pressing, can't-wait-till-I'm-home news that you just have to pull up in the car rather than, you know, paying attention to driving? Is that really your final answer, GM?

I suppose the one plus to that commercial is that it shows just how insipid and unnecessary in-vehicle social networking is, better than the media or Secretary LaHood ever could.

For his part, LaHood seems to be using a multi-pronged strategy. This isn't the first time he's denounced in-vehicle technology, and he's made it clear that he's not really happy with the direction that automakers are taking in installing more and more technology into vehicles. Since automakers are clearly ignoring him while snickering behind his back like junior high kids playing a joke on their teacher, he's currently drafting some hard guidelines for how automakers can integrate technology in the future. Hopefully, these will be binding and not just voluntary (e.g. will be ignored).

He's also urging automakers to take a greater role in public-safety campaigns, imploring them to sponsor ads that denounce texting while driving and support greater road safety. So far, BMW and Subaru have signed on.

Hopefully, these efforts will help to prevent any growing safety concerns stemming from in-vehicle technology.



dwalter | 3:56PM (Thu, Jul 7, 2011)

What's next... in-dash web cams for mobile video chatting?

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