Eyes on the Road

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Eyes on the Road: U.S. Presses To Rein In Web Gadgets In New Cars White, Joseph Barry. Wall Street Journal [New York, N.Y] 01 June 2011: D1. * Jump to first hit
As consumers clamor for more tools to help them stay connected to online media on the road, auto makers are coming under fresh pressure to minimize distracting gadgetry in new cars. "There's absolutely no reason for any person to download their Facebook into the car," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in an interview. "It's not necessary." Mr. LaHood is pushing to open new fronts in his long-running campaign against the proliferation of technology-driven diversions. In conversations with industry chief executives, Mr. LaHood says he is making it plain he isn't pleased with the trend toward putting more media feeds and gadgetry into the cockpits of new vehicles. Mr. LaHood and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which reports to him, have the power to curb the info-tainment technology built into cars if they can demonstrate a threat to safety. He is also urging auto executives to free up advertising money to create public-service announcements that remind motorists to stay focused on the road, and not to text and drive. BMW AG is the second major car maker after Subaru to say yes. It will launch later this month a television spot that starts with what appears to be a spoof of overprotective parents, but ends with disturbing images of a mother texting behind the wheel, oblivious to the sport utility vehicle that is about to broadside her car. BMW North America Chief Executive Jim O'Donnell says the company plans to run the spot, and related print and online advertising, through the end of the year. Agreeing to warn drivers against texting on a hand-held phone doesn't mean BMW plans to opt out of the in-car media revolution. Customers are demanding more and more information, Mr. O'Donnell says. BMW's approach is to manage that flow, not cut it off, such as by making...
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