Thursday, December 24, 2009

Unsafe at any speed?

In 1965, activist Ralph Nader wrote a book titled Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile.

This issue is taking on new life today, emerging in the form of arms reach electronic gadgetry in cars. Here's a key frame from a current commercial for one brand, but this marketing emphasis is seen throughout the automobile industry.

The parallel structure of the commercial demonstrates what is called a navigation and entertainment system. To use it, the driver must look down and away from the road ahead. There are many things to read and buttons to find and push.

The commercial concludes with the pushing of the car's starter button, but the demonstration of the features clearly takes place while the car is driven on a busy city street.

On December 6, 2009, the New York Times carried a story concerning the distractions of cell phone use when driving. The story focused cell phone advertising and marketing as related to promotion of phone use while driving.

So the questions of distracted driving go far beyond what you bring into the car. The question arises now as to whether the devices being built into cars are making them unsafe at any speed. And in the marketing of these devices, there are clearly legal issues relating to failure to warn.

Copyright © 2009 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

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