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Safety Advocates Concerned About Apple’s New CarPlay System

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Apple CarPlay

Apple CarPlay

“Did a Dr. Kevorkian protégé design CarPlay?” asks Stewart Wolpin in his article “The Stupidity of ‘Smart’ Cars” in Huff Post Tech. Wolpin is writing about Apple’s recent announcement of CarPlay, which lets a driver have seamless interaction with his or her iPhone through a dashboard touchscreen, technology that Wolpin calls “a more advanced way of playing with your iPhone while driving.” Referring to a National Safety Council infographic (which you can see below) that shows how dangerous multitasking is while driving, Wolpin adds: “Asking me — or any driver — to simply ignore touchscreen temptation while driving is like telling a kitten not to attack a knotted string dangled in front of its face.”

As James O’Toole writes for CNNMoney, the National Safety Council (NSC) is very concerned about the risky distractions that CarPlay provides. He quotes David Teater, senior director at the NSF, as saying the car industry and the consumer electronics business are in an “arms race” to provide drivers with things to do other than driving when they are behind the wheel. CarPlay, which Apple debuted at the Geneva Auto Show this week, will appear later this year in Volvo, Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz cars, O’Toole reports.

Although automakers have been offering smartphone integration systems for specific systems and models for several years, Apple’s CarPlay is a step towards standardizing the technology and increasing the applications, O’Toole writes. He notes that Google announced in January that it will bring its Android operating system to cars this year, in partnership with Audi, GM, Honda, and Hyundai.

While both Google and Apple say their hands-free systems will contribute to safety, there is evidence that driving while talking hands-free is just as risky as driving while holding a smartphone, O’Toole writes, citing studies that this blog has previously written about, such as ones by Texas A&M Transportation and the University of Utah.

As O’Toole points out, government data show that in 2012, distracted driving accidents killed 3,328 people and injured 421,000. And although some states ban the use of cell phones while driving, none restrict hands-free use, he writes. Colorado bans all cell phone use for novice drivers, and bans texting for all drivers, according to distraction.gov.

Considering that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has found that state laws banning cell phone use by drivers do not reduce the number of crashes, IIHS spokesman Russ Rader said the solution to the distraction problem might be more technology, O’Toole writes. The technology he is referring to are systems such as forward collision warnings and automatic braking, which do appear to be reducing the number of accidents, O’Toole points out.

In a related article, the National Safety Council has announced a video contest to raise awareness during Distracted Driving Month, as part of its campaign: “Hands-free is not risk-free.”  More than 30 scientific studies have found that using a hands-free phone while driving provides no safety benefits, NSC writes. You can find more information about the contest, whose deadline is March 14, here.

Here is NSC’s infographic:

The Great Multitasking Lie infographic
Provided by The National Safety Council

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