Automakers told Design News that the emergence of this technology comes at a time when driver distraction awareness has reached a zenith. “Right now, we are looking down the barrel of strong opinion on the regulatory side,” said Hanson of Toyota. “Some are saying that cell phones don’t belong in the car at all. Forget about hands-free; forget about Bluetooth. They don’t want it in the car at all.”
Late in 2011, The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called for the “first-ever nationwide ban on portable electronic devices,” including cellphones, in the vehicle.
Installers of the “nav-TVs” typically provide warnings about the potential dangers of the technology on their websites. “The vehicle driver must keep their eyes and attention on the road at all times,” writes one. “In some states, it is illegal to have a TV viewable by the driver when the vehicle is in motion.”
In an email, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told Design News that there is no law prohibiting the use of televisions in the front seat of a vehicle, but the agency strongly discourages it from a safety standpoint.
One US-based automaker argued that even if government agencies fail to police the sale of the kits, automakers will hold fast. “As an automaker, there’s a responsibility you bear,” said one spokesman. “We want our customers to live and prosper and buy more cars.”