High-tech gadgetry is rapidly becoming a key feature of many modern cars, and automakers are using digital systems to accomplish a variety of design goals and perform many functions, according to news website Headlight.
Recent studies, the website's Grant Owens reports, show that electronic devices have surpassed even new safety equipment as the most desirable features of new cars.
"Whether delivered directly through consumers' mobile devices or through in-vehicle electronics, there is a large movement of online content into the vehicle experience. It shouldn't surprise anyone that many drivers prefer to bring their web and mobile media behaviors into the vehicle," writes Owens.
However, there are serious concerns about the migration of personal electronics to the road, experts say. The use of cellphones and similar devices while behind the wheel is epidemic, and some studies have found the practice to be just as dangerous as driving while drunk. Dividing one's attention between the road and, for example, a text message puts many lives at risk. Over half of all U.S. states have officially banned texting while behind the wheel.
The serious safety issues posed by texting and driving can also have the effect of pushing up auto insurance rates. If more and more drivers continue to behave dangerously, the roads become more hazardous and everyone – even a responsible motorist – is at a greater risk of getting into an accident.
However, technology could provide the solution as well as the problem in this case. Some smartphone applications that are currently on the market disable such devices when on the road. The programs use location-specific features to figure out how fast they are going and shut the devices down if a speed threshold is reached.