Five ways the mobile phone is changing the car

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 02:18

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The 40th anniversary of the mobile phone and the beginning of Distracted Driver Awareness Month coincided at the start of April. It got Andrew Stoy, digital editor of, thinking about how cars and the mobile phone are changing everything. Originally meant to provide convenience, the combination is proving deadly for some drivers.

The following is an elaboration of Stoy’s views on driver distraction and how the proliferation of mobile technology is adding to the challenges. We wrote about this topic during our 2011 Distraction Free Fridays campaign. Read on to get a take from Stoy’s perspective on what’s impacting the car the most.

Is entertainment technology changing the car as we know it?

As video killed the radio star (old enough to get this reference?), so too are mobile devices and mobility finding themselves at odds. Following the 40th anniversary of the mobile phone, Stoy suggested that entertainment technology could be crippling the car as we know it.

“I love technology,” said digital editor Andrew Stoy, “But I do find it ironic that two technologies built to increase mobility seem to be having trouble coexisting.”

Stoy believes that, together, mobile devices and driving create significant hazards to safety even as they alter the nature of the American obsession with the automobile. That’s why he’s sharing these five ways that entertainment technology is killing the car:

1.    Increased driver distraction

“It’s tempting to multitask and drive in the car, but at the end of the day, it’s very dangerous. Distracted driving accidents are increasingly due to texting and phoning while driving. Automakers are trying to compensate through car design, but the problem lies in distracted driving itself.”

2.    Confusing infotainment

“NHTSA reports that nearly 900,000 police-reported accidents involved driver distraction.  While MyFord Touch and other infotainment systems can be great amenities, they are also complex, expensive and can be distracting.”

3.    Changing teen priorities

“Driving was all I could think of when I turned 16. Now teens are getting excited about electronics that can be upgraded at a much lower cost. In fact, according to technology advisory company Gardner, half of 18-to 24-year-olds would pick Web access over their car.”

4.    Social disconnection

“Americans have long relied on our cars to socialize with friends and experience life, but always-on communication, social networks and mobile devices now bring a facsimile of that experience to our fingertips. Are cars — and real socialization — taking second fiddle?”

5.    Lost road trips

“When you can sit in a car with your kids for several hours without songs, games or meltdowns, you know something fundamental has changed from the classic National Lampoon road trip. Passengers can now plug into their digital device of choice and watch, browse or chat silently for hours, unaware of the real world right outside their windows.”

As mobile phones, technology and cars continue to integrate, advance and change, Stoy questions how mobility technologies will work together in the next 40 years.

What are some ways you find in-car entertainment and technology features distracting? What technologies have you found helpful in decreasing driver distraction? Start the conversation with us in the comments below. Then check out the Distraction Free Fridays campaign!

Read Stoy’s full editorial for more.

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