A new in-car application from General Motors that lets drivers order coffee and browse for hotels while behind the wheel has been met with outcry from a prominent safety group.
The app, dubbed Marketplace, allows drivers to browse deals and place orders through an in-dash touchscreen with several major brands such as Starbucks Corp., TGI Friday’s, Priceline.com and Dunkin’ Donuts Inc.
National Safety Council President Deborah Hersman says the app will contribute to distracted driving, already a factor in a quarter of all vehicle crashes and hurt efforts to stem rising auto fatalities, which grew 5.6 percent to more than 37,000 in the U.S. last year.
"There’s nothing about this that’s safe," Hersman said. "If this is why they want Wi-Fi in the car, we’re going to see fatality numbers go up even higher than they are now."
GM said Tuesday it will launch the app on millions of 2017 and 2018 model-year vehicles equipped with Wi-Fi hotspots and compatible systems.
A major goal of GM’s service is to provide a simpler, safer alternative to using smartphones to place mobile orders, GM spokesman Vijay Iyer said, noting it’s designed in accordance with voluntary driver-distraction guidelines agreed to by car companies. The apps also have limits to how many steps a user must complete to place an order, typically three to four, he said.