We need to solve this scary problem
Keith Crain is editor-in-chief of Automotive News.
We have put up with a lot of driver distractions over the decades.
No one really cared when you grabbed a Coca-Cola and went driving down the road. And long before anyone had heard of cupholders, we grabbed a cup of hot coffee and found some place to set it. The cupholder probably has saved some lives and certainly has prevented a lot of burns caused by spilling hot coffee.
But things have become a lot worse.
When a mobile phone was a simple bag phone, we didn't worry too much because not many people had them. Even when they turned into cellphones, we tolerated them more as nuisances than dangers, although we were starting to hear about more crashes caused by inattention.
Now we have smartphones that put more computer power in the palms of our hands than NASA used to land men on the moon. When it comes to computing and communicating, there isn't much we can't do in our cars.
We know it isn't safe. Yet we take risks occasionally, knowing that we are throwing safety out the window.
But new drivers are at far greater risk, so we have to figure out how to protect and insulate our youngest drivers.
At a recent press conference, Ford demonstrated some of the newest devices available on some of its models to keep people safe.
That's the rub. Since it's about saving lives, I don't understand why Ford and others can't make such devices standard on all their vehicles right now. It would save lives and should not be about making a profit.
But beyond building in devices that will save lives, we must devise a way to disable some of the most seductive and dangerous electronic devices. And we need to get the job done -- now.
A lot of work is being done figuring out how to make electronic devices and automobiles compatible without crippling either. In the years ahead, it's only going to get worse.
For a few years now, Ford has had a feature called MyKey, which is a programmable key that prevents a teenage driver from exceeding a certain speed or turning the radio's volume above a certain level. The company says MyKey is now standard on nearly all Ford and Lincoln vehicles. That's a great beginning.
The auto industry needs to get together with the electronics industry and come up with a solution to distracted driving -- before our government issues an edict that probably would take effect in only two years.
That would be a solution no one in the car business wants.
I have said it before: "Honk if you love Jesus. Text if you'd like to meet Him."
You can reach Keith Crain at email@example.com.