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Should Tech Stay Out Of Our Cars?

by Sean P. Aune | December 22, 2009

If you thought it was bad seeing other people on the highway with you text messaging, talking on their phones and so on, imagine how you’ll feel when you see the driver in the car next to you watching Hulu.

Ford Motor Company announced that it is adding Wi-Fi to selected models of cars in 2010.  Thanks to a USB port built into the dash of the company’s SYNC system, you will be able to plug in a wireless broadband modem that will activate a Wi-Fi network inside of your car.  You will be able to log into it with any Wi-Fi device of your choice.  “While you’re driving to grandma’s house, your spouse can be finishing the holiday shopping and the kids can be chatting with friends and updating their Facebook profiles,” said Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas.

fordusbWhile this sounds like a great idea, there is some major flaws with it, namely the first idiot that will try to watch YouTube videos or check Facebook while driving.

I can already imagine the scene of someone setting up their laptop in the passenger seat to watch Hulu, change their Facebook status, perhaps take a ‘quick’ glance at their RSS feeds, pretty much any number of nightmare scenarios that will distract them from their primary job of paying attention to the road.  In a new survey reported on by MSNBC, drivers who text message while driving are six times more likely to have an accident than a non distracted driver.

While there have been other devices such as the MiFi that add Wi-Fi to a car, none has been as easy as this will be, and the fact that it will make your mobile broadband modem serve a double purpose means people will be more likely to use it.

The amount of technology that is creeping into our vehicles is reaching a frightening level in the amount of distraction it could lead to for drivers.  I asked my father, a retired traveling salesman with over 1.8 million (yes, million) road miles under his belt, what he thought of Wi-Fi coming to cars.  “It’s a horrible idea,” he responded.  “The scariest thing I ever saw was a man reading a paperback novel he had propped up on his steering while traveling down an interstate.  All I can imagine now is someone with a laptop trying to surf the Web.”

Ford claims that there are 77 million people in America that consider themselves tech enthusiasts, and of that amount nearly 50 percent of them said they would like to have Wi-Fi in their car.  Just because we want something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea.


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Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...


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