The government's top safety regulator warned that he will challenge unsafe infotainment technologies that try to convert automobiles into smartphones on wheels.
"I'm just putting everyone on notice. A car is not a mobile device," David Strickland, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, told about 200 people at the Telematics Detroit 2011 conference in Novi. "I'm not in the business of helping people tweet better. I'm not in the business of helping people post on Facebook better."
Strickland and his boss, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, have challenged automakers, suppliers, wireless providers and software developers that minimizing driver distraction must be a priority as drivers are offered more information services in their vehicles.
Recently, in a Detroit News article:
Ford Motor Co. said today it is endorsing a federal ban on hand-held cell phone calls by drivers — becoming the first automaker to do so.
The Dearborn automaker said it is supporting a bill introduced last month by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y. Pete Lawson, Ford's vice president of government affairs, said the company is backing the bill "because it represents a practical, common sense approach to a national problem."
Ford has been eager to protect its in-vehicle technologies — such as Sync and MyFord Touch — that allow drivers to make hands-free calls and receive or send some limited text messages orally.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has urged drivers not to use hand-held phones behind the wheel and raised concerns about cognitive distractions from calls.
Why yes, we would love to support one of your key policies because
you are a very powerful man who can make life very difficult for us we care about safety. And our products would sell better if you banned cell phones. So yeah. Safety first.
Speaking of making life difficult for the American auto industry:
Young car buyers going foreign
In a troubling sign for Detroit, import brands appear to be winning over the new generation of American car buyers, people between the ages of 18 and 27.
This group, known as Generation Y or "Millennials," is showing an even greater preference for Asian brands than the Gen X consumers before them, according to a study by TrueCar.com, a data firm in Santa Monica, Calif.
Why are young car buyers choosing foreign cars?
"Based on the data, it's something for the domestics to worry about," said Jesse Toprak, a market analyst at TrueCar.com. "It shows that some of these brands come across as more youthful or hip, or have better integrated use of technology."
Millennials appear to favor cars, such as the Scion tC and Honda Civic Si, that permit a high degree of customization.
"Our young buyers are looking for ways to connect with their personal devices," said Craig Taguchi, a spokesman for Scion.
Eh, whatever. If we kill them, we’ll just bail them out again.