Cole, who knows the automotive market as well as anyone in the country, cites the lack of success of Tata Motors' Nano, a bare-bones city car that retailed for a scant $2,100 and still missed its mark, even in India's economically challenged market.
"It's been a bomb in the market," he said. "Many people don't want a car with no extra features."
The debate over cellphone use is also complicated by the question of whether a cellphone really is a distraction. Few would argue that texting while driving is a safety issue, but many phone users cite the availability of Bluetooth headsets to eliminate potential distraction. With Bluetooth, they say, a phone is no more a distraction than a car radio or a crying child in the back seat.
Still, Bluetooth technology doesn't help drivers deal with center console displays, many of which have gotten maddeningly complex. Some use as many as 15 buttons and require drivers to step through a menu of four or five nested screens, all of which qualify as a major distraction. Cole predicts that the auto industry will ultimately settle the problem with the development of reconfigurable displays that can change to meet the individual driver's needs. Those who have difficulties with complex features will be able to simplify the display to minimize the distraction, he said.
Of course, that won't help clueless drivers who seem incapable of understanding when they're distracted. "This is a huge dilemma for the industry," Cole said. "You're dealing with human nature here. People want what they want. And sometimes they want more than they should have."
To keep up with our EV coverage, go to Drive for Innovation and follow the cross-country journey of EE Life editorial director Brian Fuller. On his trip, sponsored by Avnet Express, Fuller is driving a Chevy Volt across America to interview engineers.
and then you see the folks with the push to talk phones holding the phone in one hand, talking and attempting to make a left hand turn that requires all four lanes of the intersection since they can't steer hand over hand. Signaling? Not likely.
My observation is, I am following a car in fast lane that suddenly for no apparent reason the driver slows down by 10~15 mph and maybe weaves a little but continues in fast lane. When I pull to right and pass I observe driver is on cell phone. My conclusion is that, unconsciously the cell phone user recognizes they are driving while distracted and they slow down.
Even before cell phones their were distractions. Ive seen drivers reading the paper, eating, putting on makeup and once I saw a driver making out while driving. All those are aside from the battery of controls that distract the driver from his/her primary job of driving the car. Adding another layer of distraction isn't a good thing. Perhaps voice activated controls and true hands free commmunications are all we can hope for, but it won't keep silly people from doing silly things while driving.
I'm surprised to hear that about Toyota, Chuck. Seems like intrusion into the customer's ability to run the device -- even if it does improve safety. It sounds like that also would hamper a front-seat passenger's ability to utilize the system. Or maybe there's an override for passenger operation.
Nice video, Chuck. Now that's distracting. That has to be at least up there with dialing a cellphone number. And I can't imagine drivers pulling off the road just to change a radio station. That visual screen is far more distracting than the memory buttons on older radios.
That's interesting, Chuck, that they address safety when introducing the distracting items. Does that also include suggested use? Do they indicate that some of these devices need to be used/adjusted when the car is at a stop?
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