Car makers are now offering drivers the ability to call up apps in their cars that provide a variety of ordering services – from preordering coffee so that it’s ready when you arrive, to making restaurant reservations while you’re on your way, to paying for gas at a service station.
In other words, cars can now come equipped with the ability to do what your smartphone already does, but with greater ease of use while driving. General Motors rolled out the first cars equipped with these technologies late last year and Hundai is developing a system that it has tested with Applebee’s and Chevron gas stations. BMW offers an app that allows drivers to locate and pay for parking facilities. Actually, General Motors cars have, for 15 years now, come equipped with OnStar satellite service which has allowed the driver to ask for driving directions, find out locations of nearest restaurants and coffee shops as well as make a variety of reservations. Cars have also had built-in GPS systems, for many years, and these systems require a dedicated amount of interaction by the driver to make the system provide useful assistance. Currently, however, safety advocates are concerned that the new app features will lead to more distracted driving. It always seems that safety advocates never actually drive around in cars if they are naive enough to believe that drivers aren’t engaged in a wide variety of activities already, from correcting children, to eating lunch obtained from a fast food drive through, to putting on make-up – all of which are distracted driving habits but not targeted by the safety folks like technological use is. They cite the 3,450 distracted driving deaths in the U.S. last year as a reason for opposition to including the driving assistance apparatuses in automobiles. I’d say that we’ve done very well, as a whole, with the safe use of driver-assistance abilities such as On-Star and GPS systems – and I’d expect the same to be the case for the new car apps. Anything that provides greater ease for one’s navigation around congested freeways is generally a plus for both the driver and fellow drivers on the roadways.