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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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While Technology is Hijacking Dashboards, It Raises Safety Issues

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Some car interiors are starting to resemble a home office, with gadgets installed on every available space on the dashboard. A recent study by J.D. Power found that approximately 15 percent of consumers rule out buying a car if it lacks the latest technology, compared with just 4 percent a year ago. But, how much technology is appropriate in a vehicle and could all the gadgets be driving motorists to deadly distractions?

While auto manufacturers expect dashboard technology to be a significant factor in car buying decisions within five years, these emerging display devices have become part of a debate over whether technology can provide safer ways for people to multitask while driving. Car makers insist that having the screen directly in front of the driver is less dangerous because of well-integrated voice controls and large touch screens that will keep drivers from fumbling with more dangerous mobile phones. Industry guidelines say that drivers should be able to complete tasks on the displays in a series of single glances that generally take no more than 2 seconds each, for a total of 20 seconds. But the government guidelines advise that drivers should be able to complete tasks in a series of 1.5 or 2 second glances, for a total of no more than 12 seconds. So far, the guidelines are voluntary, with automakers under no obligation to comply.

On the other hand, opponents insist that relying too much on technology is bound to have serious consequences, as motorists may gradually lose their ability to quickly respond to emergency situations, let alone recognize them on time. Attending to the road is much more complex than having your head turned toward it. “You can’t be looking at a screen and be looking at the road at the same time,” said David Strayer, a professor of cognition and neural science at the University of Utah, who has written several studies on distracted driving.

What do you think? Will dashboard technology improve driver safety or just auto manufacturers’ revenue? Or, will automakers be able to develop useful in-car technology that is also safe? Should there be more federal regulations over dashboard displays? Let us hear from you!

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.