Say what you want about the 8-track but it was simple to use. A driver merely had to shove the cartridge into the slot on the dash. Other than adjusting the volume and the occasional fast-forward (you couldn't rewind an 8-track), there were no other operational distractions.
But as car audio systems became more sophisticated, the potential for driver distraction increased. Today--well, have you seen what's in dashboards?
The lease on my wife's car is up so we've been doing some test-driving. One vehicle--the manufacturer will remain nameless--had an interface that allowed for video from your iPhone play on the dashboard. While most people will use this feature responsible, you know that a significant number of morons will end up watching porn as they scream down the highway.
At the moment, infotainment systems are pretty much regulated. That, however, is going to come to an end. Check this out from RadioInk:
The Government may be coming along just in time to save AM/FM radio from becoming extinct from the automobile dashboard. During a panel at Convergence, moderated by Greater Media's Buzz Knight, several automakers emphasized how important the safety issue was. They appeared concerned that the government might step in if it appeared the dashboard was becoming more of distraction.
Well, on Thursday, Transportation Secratary Ray LaHood (pictured) held a press conference and hinted regulators may draft specific guidelines regarding an automobile's infotainment system. He called texting and cellphone use "a national epidemic."
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported that 3,092 people were killed in crashes related to driver distraction in 2010. Lahood said, “Americans have gotten into very dangerous behavior with their cell phones and their texting devices to think they can use them behind the wheel of a car.
"People continue to be killed and injured despite the fact these deaths are 100 percent preventable. I’ve met with every car executive and talked with them about what they can do to help us with technology they’re putting in cars that may become a distraction to drivers. We hope to examine voice commands for hands-free functions too.”