With so many telematics and smart phone technologies built into today’s automobile, what’s possible seems limitless. More and more, it looks like we’re closing the gap between what Hanna-Barbera’s The Jetsons envisioned in the 1960s and where we are now.
Nevertheless, all of this technology is not as openly welcomed as you might think. While there is a lot of excitement about new technologies and their being incorporated into automobiles, some safety advocates would like to see more restraint.
On June 9, 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Administrator, David L. Strickland, spoke at the 2011 Detroit Diesel conference in Novi, Michigan. Mr. Strickland praised the use of vehicle technology that supports such functions as vehicle maintenance and also the use of navigation systems to help first-responders in the event of vehicle crashes. However, he made it clear that he does not support technologies that are distracting to drivers. In Mr. Strickland’s presentation, titled "USDOT Sheds Lights on Driver Distraction Issues (Crucial Session)," he expresses that while drivers’ connecting to all the new technologies in their vehicle is not necessary, some vehicle owners still very much embrace the technologies being added to vehicles.
In May 2011, at the Association for Safer International Road Travel Annual Gala Fundraiser, in Washington, D.C., Mr. Strickland spoke about the need for crash avoidance technologies. In his remarks, Mr. Strickland says, “Crash avoidance technologies provide an opportunity to save lives and reduce injuries by supporting the driver and preventing crashes from occurring in the first place.” He also puts forth that vehicle to-vehicle communication and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication are two possible ways to help reduce the number of automobile crashes.
However, at the same time that these safety applications are making a positive difference in reducing crashes, and while their use is being encouraged, NHTSA is simultaneously “taking a hard look at these systems” and challenging both the auto industry and cell phone industry to work hand-in-hand with federal transportation officials “to keep the driver on their required task: driving.”