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Electronic News & Comment
Carmakers Keen on Turning Driver Distraction Into Features
4/16/2012

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Delphi's MyFi Connecting with Safety system uses an LED-based 'exogenous display' (see top of dashboard) to draw the driver's attention back to the road.   Source: Delphi Corp.
Delphi's MyFi Connecting with Safety system uses an LED-based "exogenous display" (see top of dashboard) to draw the driver's attention back to the road.
Source: Delphi Corp.

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Beth Stackpole
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Connectivity in the car
Beth Stackpole   4/16/2012 7:19:20 AM
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Thanks for the comprehensive overview of what auto makers are planning to enable consumer device connectivity in cars, Chuck. I have to say that I totally agree that access to texting, email, cell phones, etc. is a huge distraction and I am personally guilty of letting eyes off the road too long to sneak off a text. That said, I don't think it's realistic to ban such devices from the car. They are too much a part of people's everyday lives--an appendage of sorts. I think that the auto makers' concerted focus on improving the HMIs to make them more natural and advancing voice recognition will eventually pay off in terms of addressing these issues. Even with these advances, though, the problem will always remain a challenge, and it definitely demands that drivers employ some sort of common sense.

tekochip
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Not just the electronics
tekochip   4/16/2012 10:46:23 AM
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I like the idea of a glass cockpit, so to speak, but to draw another parallel to aviation the pilot needs to spend more time looking out the windshield. The idea of blinking LEDs being used to gather the driver's attention back to the windshield seems like it might be a good idea, and I'd like to see if that works in the real world. It's shameful to see how distracted drivers are; eating, reading the paper, filing fingernails, looking at passengers while they talk, and worst yet, none of those examples involved entertainment devices. Really, the devices are just another form of distraction and they are not the root cause of the problem, but just once I would like to see a cop drive by that wasn't talking on his cell phone.


GlennA
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Gold
lock-out features
GlennA   4/16/2012 11:40:52 AM
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My built-in Navigation system has a lock-out when the vehicle is in motion.  This is especially annoying when the passenger is trying to use it.  But, the hard disk music library doesn't have an in-motion lockout.  So a driver could play as much as he/she wanted with that.  This contradiction makes no sense to me.

And, I was looking at a Honda Gold Wing.  It had AM/FM/CD/CB-radio/Intercom controls, heated seat, heated grips, Nav system, and I don't know what else might have been included.  I couldn't imagine playing with these while riding a motorcyle.  But I also blanched when I saw the price tag.

 

TJ McDermott
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Our distraction begs for another type of technology
TJ McDermott   4/16/2012 12:12:16 PM
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I HATE my commute, and it's really not a bad one.  It's time I wish I could do something else.  The distractive technologies can be used if another technology can ever get off the ground.

Autonomous vehicles would solve many of the problems caused by distractive electronics.  We've talked about it in other articles, and the people who pitch "personal people movers" (a.k.a. your own car) when trying to fight mass transit have a point that no one really wants to get rid of their car to ride a bus.

Microsoft runs its own bus system in the Seattle area (the Microsoft Connector).  You get driven to work, and you have wi-fi connectivity.  Microsoft's thinking is that people will do more work while getting to and from work.  Can't argue with that.

Autonomous vehicles should mean better traffic flow, less accidents, and more time to be disctracted the way we wish to be.

naperlou
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Re: Not just the electronics
naperlou   4/16/2012 1:38:14 PM
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tekochip, just this morning I saw a woman driving an SUV leaning over to look at herself in the rear view mirror doing her lashes. 

I have commented before on my experience with a car that talks to the driver and warns of pending problems.  I was not the driver.  The driver seemed to be ignoring the system the whole time. 

So, it seems that there is lots of room for improvemet in these systems.  Perhaps the auto industry could learn from the aerospace industry. 

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Not just the electronics
Rob Spiegel   4/16/2012 4:15:25 PM
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Yes Naperlou, I too have seen people applying make-up while driving. Or eating while driving (perhaps not as bad), But when I'm sitting at a light and it turns green and the car in front of me doesn't move, it always seems to be an electronic device. I don;t know how this will get solved between now and the time that cars that drive themselves.

NadineJ
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Re: Our distraction begs for another type of technology
NadineJ   4/16/2012 4:46:08 PM
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I've been lucky with my commutes over the years.  It's nothing to complain about.  But, like many here, I have seen woman applying make-up, men shaving, teens texting and seniors turning away from the road to hold conversations with passengers...it's scary out there!

I agree with TJ and I think the new technologies have already started.  Advanced Parking Guidance Systems offered today are a first step.

We want the convenience and individuality our personal cars allow with the ease of public transportation like buses and planes. 

Kudos to companies who recognize the trend and are trying to stay ahead of it responsibly.

TJ McDermott
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Blogger
Re: Not just the electronics
TJ McDermott   4/16/2012 5:03:11 PM
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Ever been tooling along the interstate, "in the driving zone" (on autopilot, as it were), having driven more than 40 miles from the previous waypoint, car is quiet, no radio, when the GPS suddenly says "in 2 miles, make a right", startling you almost into swerving into the next lane?

Charles Murray
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Re: Not just the electronics
Charles Murray   4/16/2012 5:38:31 PM
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I think I've reached the point where I can tell if a distracted driver is on his or her cellphone. Thankfully, those drivers usually goslower, not faster. Often the car is wandering (a slow version of weaving from lane to lane). Usually, if I see those two things, I can take a pretty good guess that the driver is either drunk or talking on a cellphone. I'm not convinced that the drunk is any worse than the cell phone user.

Greg M. Jung
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Platinum
Re: Not just the electronics
Greg M. Jung   4/16/2012 9:02:09 PM
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I agree with you that another 'reminder' device won't address the true root cause (which is focusing on the wrong priorities when driving).  If anything, this well-intended reminder may actual contribute as another distraction itself.  I can see where certain driver groups (i.e. my teenager) will just choose to ignore this 'annoying' little device while happily typing away on their cellphone. 

(Better still, maybe I should have a parent option of jamming all occupant cell phone signals while the engine is running...)

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