Mobile Apps and Automobiles – Possibilities and Perils

Mobile Apps and Automobiles – Possibilities and Perils

Mobile technology seems as though it was made for the automobile.  In fact, it’s difficult for us to think of any particular mobile tech functionality that doesn’t enhance the driving experience.  Should you need real-time traffic reports for your daily commute, directions when you’re lost, a list of nearby hotels or the cheapest gas stations, or all your music in one platform, games, or movies to keep the kids under control in the back seat, mobile apps are there to help.

Not to be outdone, auto manufacturers have taken notice.  Bluetooth connectivity for voice calls comes standard in most new car models, and for those where it doesn’t, third-party Bluetooth kits can be purchased for a reasonable price.  Additionally, many auto manufacturers are using mobile tech to keep drivers in constant contact with their automobiles.  Chevrolet boasts the OnStar RemoteLink app which allows drivers to start their vehicle, control the door locks, and check the diagnostics from anywhere in the world.  For its part, the myFord app is specifically designed for electric vehicles, and contains a wealth of information (battery charge, location of charging stations) in addition to its remote capacities and social networking perks, and Volvo claims to have designed “the most comprehensive and broadly available application in Europe when it comes to controlling and monitoring the car from anywhere at anytime.”

The problem with all these technological marvels is that while these functions are helpful, most of us are using phones in our cars for old-fashioned calls and texting … and that’s not so good.  In 2009 alone, nearly half a million Americans fell victim to “distracted driving” accidents, more than 5,000 of them fatally, which is why nearly everyone involved with road traffic – including auto manufacturers – supports bans on texting and voice calls while driving.  The same manufacturers who install GPS devices in your car that won’t take commands unless the car is at a stop are being frustrated by hand-held GPS devices (mobile phones, for example) that don’t have such restrictions.  A number of possibilities are being considered, such as disabling all cell phones automatically while driving, but technical and consumer issues make that solution a complicated one.  What we do know is that it’s safer to drink and drive than it is to text and drive, so if you have to take a call or send a text, pull over!

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