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Facebook and Twitter to be Offered as Features in New Cars

Earlier this year U.S. automakers unveiled their latest features, including improved airbags and seatbelts, focused on saving lives and preventing serious injury in automobile accidents.  These features were applauded by safety advocates for helping to keep car occupants safe on America’s highways. However, as carmakers unveil their latest Internet-based features, safety advocates fear automakers are contributing to the distracted driving epidemic.

According to the New York Times, automakers are planning on offering high-tech features in some of their 2013 models allowing drivers to stay ‘wired’ while in the car, without accessing their smartphones.  Some of the apps that will be offered by Mercedes-Benz, Acura, Honda, Lexus, and Subaru, among other automakers, include GPS, Pandora streaming music, movie ticket ordering and even restaurant reviews from Yelp.  However the carmakers aren’t stopping there.  Some of the dealers will be offering access to social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.  It is this feature that has safety advocates and government officials concerned.

In February, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood introduced the first-ever federally proposed guidelines to encourage automobile manufacturers to limit the distraction risk for electronic features in vehicles. According to the guidelines, many of the electronic features should only work when the car is stopped. But these are guidelines only, and LaHood’s hands are tied as far as stopping manufacturers from putting features in a car unless the U.S. Department of Transportation can demonstrate a threat to public safety.

LaHood realizes that Americans are hooked on cellphones and texting.  But, he says, “We don’t have to choose between safety and technology. Automakers have a responsibility to ensure they don’t divert a driver’s attention.”

The automakers say they are improving safety by having drivers put down their phones. The New York Times reports that much of the access to and from the social media sites is voice activated, and the auto manufacturers say that is actually safer than the drivers using their own smartphones.

“They are using these apps on their smartphones, anyway,” says Jim Buczkowski, Ford’s director of electrical and electronics systems. “So how can we enable them in a nondistracting way?”

Our Pennsylvania car accident attorneys continue to stress the dangers of distracted driving, especially texting while driving. While we have not seen the new in-car internet features, we simply ask all drivers to practice safe driving behaviors and to stay fully focused and alert.

About Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys

Munley Law is a Pennsylvania accident and injury law firm that represents car accident victims and their families throughout the state of Pennsylvania and the Northeast, including those injured in accidents that involve speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, fatigued driving, aggressive driving and careless driving in hazardous weather conditions. The Pennsylvania personal injury law firm’s additional practice areas include trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, toxic chemicals, workplace injuries, nursing home litigation and other serious accidents. To contact the law firm, use the firm’s online contact form.

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