Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood does not want to see Facebook updates that read, “Just driving to work” or “Traffic’s a –itch today.” LaHood strongly urged car manufacturers to stop installing social media features and gadgets into their vehicles. “There’s absolutely no reason,” says Secretary LaHood, “for any person to download their Facebook into the car. It’s not necessary.” Those of you using Facebook in the car – stop it, and keep your eyes on the road.
More car manufacturers are giving in to consumer pressure to add social networking features into their new cars. From Toyota Friend, a social network for Toyota owners, to GM’s real-time Facebook status updates, you don’t have to settle for phone calls and texting only when you’re driving. Secretary LaHood has the power to stop the production of these features if there is a demonstrated risk to public safety. For now, he is just warning manufacturers to curb their policies. Are they listening?
Not really. BMW North America is launching a campaign that parodies overprotective parents but then has them texting while driving. Even while these ads run, though, BMW is still producing social media features. Their approach is to “manage” info-tainment, not cut it off. One way BMW does this, according to North America chief executive Jim O’Donnell, is with “brief bursts of information” on heads-up displays.
BMW and other manufacturers do not want to miss out on the lucrative opportunity – or anger demanding customers by refusing to provide social media features. By 2017, it is estimated that more than 17 million cars in North America will have advanced in-vehicle info-tainment systems.