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Posted by on Mar 22, 2011 in Safety | 6 comments

Where are we goin’?

Can’t bear pay attention?

Paul Atchley of Car Talk’s Driver Distraction Center says vehicle distraction systems are the 21st century cup holder—a market-driven “must have” phenomenon.

In the distraction arms race, it is not entirely clear who is to blame: Detroit or Main Street… The sad truth is, distracting technologies also help to sell cars. If you’re a manufacturer, cars are all about profit — in fact, automobile companies have a fiduciary responsibility to make a profit. Until consumers demand otherwise, we need to get ready for a lot of new 21st century cup holders. For those of us who spend our days working to reduce deaths and injuries on our roads, that’s an ominous sign.

Blame the consumer because corporations, by their nature, have no civic responsibility.

Why does the consumer want these things? Because they’re bored out of their minds. That’s why. Driving sucks.

We’ve engineered our entire transportation system around an activity which requires increasing amounts of unproductive time, unless you are distracted. Driving is time spent between what you were doing and what you want or need to do next. It steals hours of our lives we’ll never get back. Too many people have all but forgotten it’s a task that actually requires attention. But that’s not hard to do. What with the highway engineers enabling mindless driving and the car companies supplying distractions.

Oh well, let’s reinforce the box.

Khal Spencer reminded me of this video last week.

“… and the roads today are safer for it,” says the narrator. The roads are, huh? For whom?

And keep our kids in car seats until they’re teenagers.

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published new recommendations Monday. Infants and toddlers should ride in rear-facing car seats until age two. Children from two to four years of age should be kept in forward-facing car seats. Belt-positioning “booster seats” should be used for kids until they are 4’9″ tall (age 8 to 12). Children under 13 should not sit in the front seat.

But I don’t suppose we’re ready to take a sober look at the root causes yet.

For the cliff is all right, if your careful,” they said,
“And, if folks even slip and are dropping,
It isn’t the slipping that hurts them so much
As the shock down below when they’re stopping.


  1. Taking responsibility for operating a multi-ton vehicle is not something many people will accept. I was told by a woman in a grocery store that I was a danger to other road users because “a friend” driver was not able to see me in her blind spot. There was more than one blind spot going on there!

    • People don’t accept responsibility for much of anything these days.

  2. I’m wishing and wishing for the current Arab unrest to spread to Saudi Arabia and bring all this car garbage to an abrupt end.

  3. Repeating what I wrned about in Jan 2010: Like alcoholism, there is never enough infotainment once hooked. We already know how distractive cell phones and texting options cause drivers to run red lights and swerve out of their lanes, but the most distractive devices are yet to hit the market and people are more hooked to infotainment than ever before.

  4. Unfortunately, its not just car manufacturers trying to steal your attention from driving. In a recent online promotional video for the new version of their navigation app, Verizon touts the fact that one can multi-task while navigating – they specifically show social networking while navigating! Facebook is the new cup holder?

    • Thanks for sharing that, Jack!


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