February 5, 2010

As if distractions like sat navs, cell phones and MP3/CD players were not enough, prepare to enter the brave new world of the Internet automobile.

Why would anyone want to forsake the wonderful worldwide web world for boring old steering and road watching? Fear not: soon you need never unplug from the online experience. Within the next 18 months, according to record organ The Times, new cars being developed by Ford and Audi will be fully web-enabled, allowing users (formerly known as drivers) to surf the net, email, Skype (“John, you seem a little distracted.”), and call up sites like Google Maps or Comparethemeerkat behind the wheel.

Carmakers apparently claim this “will transform cars from tools used to get from A to B into mobile offices, complete with all the conveniences of the digital age.” We always knew that A to B stuff was over-rated. Why hare around the country when you can pull over in a lay-by with a Big Mac and Beyoncé bouncing on your YouTube.

“MyFord Touch” will be “a state-of-the-art in-car computer that brings the internet direct to the dashboards of a mass-produced vehicle for the first time” allowing users to “access the web via a built-in browser, developed in conjunction with Microsoft, and an 8in LCD touchscreen

What could possibly be wrong with that?

Killjoys point out that “in-car distraction” was a contributory factor in 84 fatalities, 429 serious injuries and 4,255 slight injuries in the UK in 2008, while in the US the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes 6,000 people were killed by distracted drivers in 2008.

Good news, though, for all those people who really like to touch their cars.


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