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Government Transportation

NHTSA Suggestion Would Cripple In-Car GPS Displays 516

Posted by timothy
from the this-must-just-be-a-bad-dream dept.
bricko writes "The recently issued National Highway Transportation Safety Agency guidelines for automakers to minimize distraction for in-vehicle electronics included a proposal to freeze maps on navigation systems. No more scrolling maps...just static pictures. 'Every current installed navigation system uses the car as a fixed point, and shows the map moving around it. NHTSA wants that changed so as to keep the map fixed. Even showing the position of the car moving on the map could be considered a dynamic image. The recommendation seems to suggest that the position of the car could only be updated every couple of seconds. Likewise, the map could be refreshed once the car has left the currently displayed area. This recommendation would essentially make navigation unusable. The system could still give an auditory warning for the next turn, but without being able to glance down at the map and see how close the next street is would likely lead to a lot of missed turns and resultant frustration.'"
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NHTSA Suggestion Would Cripple In-Car GPS Displays

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  • This Is A Bad Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 25, 2012 @08:32AM (#39465311)

    People will just realize they are about to go the wrong way and change lanes even later than they already do.

    • GPS systems are a huge distraction. Do you really need a GPS for day-to-day driving? For most people, how often do you really drive somewhere you don't know? No more than a few times a year. And do you really need a GPS in a city you don't know? No. READ THE ROAD SIGNS! CHECK A MAP BEFORE YOU LEAVE! Folks that drive with GPS seem like some of the worst drivers on the road. Why? They are watching the screen and not the road signs. They are missing the obvious visual clues to where they are going.

      GPS laws
      • by SDrag0n (532175) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @10:06AM (#39465891)
        Generally speaking, I agree with you. On the other hand, I know some people (my wife) who can't navigate anywhere and are constantly turned around. The reality is some people have a good sense of direction and can memorize a map with ease, and some people can't.

        I'd rather have my wife using a GPS then call me frustrated while trying to describe where she is while actually having no idea and just becoming more and more angry.
        • by Artifakt (700173)

          My Ex recently borrowed a GPS device to go to a wedding for some friends. The location was in a city with which she was almost completely unfamilar except for the main interstate route. She told me how this machine gave her instructions like:
          "There's been an accident a few blocks ahead - Turn left at the movie theater"
          "Drive around behind the theater and find the 1 lane concrete bridge - look for a green trash dumpster next to it."
          "Cross the bridge and turn right - the speed limit is 25 - you are in a resid

      • by lister king of smeg (2481612) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @10:44AM (#39466073)

        I am wasteing my previous mod points but oh well I do not have a in car navagation system or gps or even smart phone with internet, but you say that people do not need gps nav because most people do not go all that many places that they do not the way to all that often. That may be true for you but if for people like me who go trying out new hiking and camping and fishing places way out in the middle of nowhere on back roads a nav system would be a God send. I hate trying to read a map while driving and no reading it before hand is not always enough. If I am driving clear across Washington state to go fishing with freinds just glancing at a map before leaving is not enough. Just because you do not have a use for it does not mean others do not have a use for it.

      • You're making the following groundless assumptions:

        • That the road signs are perfect (or even good enough) everywhere
        • That everyone can memorize a path, not matter how complicated it is, by just looking at a map beforehand
        • That everyone knows beforehand where they're going
        • That looking out for road signs doesn't distract as well

        Do people really need a GPS? No. But that doesn't mean GPSs aren't a net benefit.

    • by fooslacker (961470) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @09:39AM (#39465757)
      It's even worse than that. When the in car navi stops working the way people are accustomed to they will switch to phone based navigation which will require much more attention and cause many more problems. Rather than constantly trying to put genies back in their bottles government out to be researching ways to make them safer while still being useful. Figure out a way to have them be voice activated and respond to natural language queries so the screens become less important to the experience.

      If you want to change people's behavior give them something that is a qualitatively better experience rather than just trying to restrict what already exists. This will only drive them to (pun intended) to work around the system with unforeseen and in this case dangerous consequences.
      • by Anrego (830717) *

        The GPS I have kinda tried to do the whole voice activated thing.. but it's so klunky and slow to use that I think it would actually be more dangerous to attempt using it on the road.

        To weight in on the general subject.. like anything else, there is a correct way and an incorrect way to use a GPS:

        The correct way is to look at the map before hand, listen to the audio directions, and make occasional glances to see how close a turn is / which lane you want to be in / other navigation clues. You glance down and

  • Also, (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    In other news, picture books whose pages are turned every few seconds are set to replace current programming on several major TV stations.

    While this move is being decried by futurists, it cannot be denied that it provides a greater source of intellectual stimulation than current shows.

    • When you are driving you shouldn't really be watching TV.
      • Re:Also, (Score:4, Interesting)

        by PortHaven (242123) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @08:59AM (#39465475) Homepage

        Why not....

        I've driven through and watch nearly 3/4 of the original and TNG Star Trek series. It has surprisingly minimal effect on driving. The location of the viewing unit is really what's key and an understanding that you can simply rewind easily if you miss a scene of interest. No, I wouldn't do it with a high action movie like Transformers.

        But the location if placed central to driver's view retains peripheral sensory perception, and thus enables you to respond to vehicle movement. The real problem here is the idiots who moved the GPS from in front of the driver, where it should be, to the side/center console, in the name of safety - and in fact created far more danger.

        • Re:Also, (Score:5, Informative)

          by Lt.Hawkins (17467) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @09:13AM (#39465601) Homepage

          So totally off topic, but prompted by your last sentence: I'm currently renting a car, a Toyota Yaris, I think. They moved the WHOLE DASH to the CENTER.

          This: http://www.carid.com/dash-kit-gallery/images/dash-kits/Toyota_Yaris_2006-UP_2427BE_A04.jpg [carid.com]

          Oh my god, It is the worst ever. I feel like I'm a danger on the road every time I try to check my speed. Who in their right minds thought this was a good idea?

          • by creepynut (933825)

            If it makes you feel better it's not just the Yaris. The Saturn Ion had it in the centre, and the Yaris's predecessor the Echo had it there too (though both were turned slightly toward the driver.

            I love it in my Yaris actually, but I'm probably a minority because Toyota moved it back to the more traditional location for 2012.

          • Re:Also, (Score:5, Insightful)

            by T-Bucket (823202) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @09:40AM (#39465761) Homepage

            The ones who thought it was a good idea were the bean counters who figured they could save themselves a few bucks by not having two different dashboards for left or right drive cars. But you know, "safety is our first priority... right after money." (Like the airlines!)

        • To be blunt, how would you have the least freaking clue whether or not it has a "surprisingly minimal effect on driving."? All you know is that you haven't had to swerve or stomp on your brakes in a while.

          I suspect the drivers around you might have a difference of opinion on the matter.

  • Bunch of idiots (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 25, 2012 @08:36AM (#39465323)

    I swear, government must be run by the lowest common denominator.

    Your brain will easily tune out a smoothly scrolling picture that has minute changes one frame to the next. A change in the visual environment that is small will not trigger a threat assessment by the brain.

    However, if the image is still, and then suddenly changes, that is a far more significant change in the visualized environment, and the brain will tune to it to see if that change represents a threat.

    • Re:Bunch of idiots (Score:4, Insightful)

      by circusboy (580130) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @09:04AM (#39465521)

      It's run by the people you elect on a regular basis. At least in the country where this story is relevant...

      • Re:Bunch of idiots (Score:4, Insightful)

        by aslagle (441969) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @09:25AM (#39465673)
        You think the NHTSA is run by elected officials? The vast bulk of them are bureaucrats who stay on from administration to administration.
        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          The vast bulk of them are bureaucrats who stay on from administration to administration.

          You make this seem bad.
          The bureaucrats fill two very important rolls:
          1. Institutional knowledge. Every few years, when a new political appointee shows up, the bureaucrats bring him/her up to speed.
          2. Non-partisanship. If every administration brought a new batch of partisan hacks, our government would be schizophrenic

          We've had this system of bureaucrats-instead-of-political-appointees for the last ~130 years,
          because it is better than the alternative of each President appointing campaign donors into important

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kanweg (771128)

      Not to mention that you may start watching the screen frequently in anticipation when a new screen is about to appear and you need the info.

      Bert

      • by bunratty (545641)
        Not to mention that you would then need to mentally rotate the image to determine which way you are going and which way you would need to turn. It would be worse than the maps installed on building walls that you need to mentally flip to visualize how the map corresponds to the building, because you would have to do the flip while driving, which would be even more distracting than the current GPS maps. Do others know what I'm talking about? If not, I found a paper about it [tandfonline.com].
    • Re:Bunch of idiots (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @09:09AM (#39465571)
      government must be run by the lowest common denominator

      That is what democracy means!

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @09:19AM (#39465633)

      Look at the dearth of numerical LCD gauges in cars. Why is that? We used analogue meters back in the day because, well, that's all we had. However in a modern car, that instrument cluster is part or all digital on the back end. It has to convert the digital signals it gets to the analogue gauges. So why not go for digital LED numbers? Cheaper to produce, and more accurate. You'd know your speed down to the MPH (presuming the unit that reads it is that accurate). In fact there were some cars with them at one point, but they seem to have gone away.

      Well the reason is it is distracting. If you put a big LCD speed readout there it's abrupt changes distract the driver more than the smooth movement of a needle. Quick changes catch the eye, smooth motion not as much.

      Same would hold true for something like this. A smooth updating map that scrolls along with car movement isn't very noticeable. Something suddenly changing draws the attention.

      • by Will.Woodhull (1038600) <wwoodhull@gmail.com> on Sunday March 25, 2012 @10:15AM (#39465929) Homepage Journal

        Speedometers are a distraction while driving and constitute a real danger to both the driver and anyone in his immediate vicinity. NHTSA should focus its efforts on banning them, or at the least, blanking them (and all other dashboard instruments) while the car is in motion.

        Also something needs to be done about drivers who are bobbing their heads around to the beat of the music they are listening to. They are clearly in a state of distraction and are also a distraction to other drivers. Cops should have the authority to pull them over, take their driver license on the spot, and assure that they will no longer pose an immediate hazard by confiscating the vehicle's sparkplug wires.

      • by fermion (181285) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @10:36AM (#39466033) Homepage Journal
        I would argue that the reason we have analogue displays is that they are easier to comprehend. In my car I can glance at the speed and tach and comprehend the meaning with no reading, or minimal reading. The meaning is purely positional.

        There is technical issue as well. Can a car calculate the speed to miles per hour and if so, is it meaningful? I would argue that a car cannot reliable calculate, on a second by second basis, the speed to such an accuracy and therefore such displays are there purely for entertainment purposes. I would argue that we are seeing an increasing number fo displays that are for entertainment purposes only. For instance, I rented an Altima that displays frequent updates to current fuel usages, which went from 60 mph on the down slope to 10mph on the step positive grades. This was not useful. My car gives me a trip average which potentially allows me to adjust my driving when the average is to low. The gauge on the Altima is entertainment.

        And I think this is what the discussion is about. What part of mapping is useful and what part is visual entertainment, which many agree is not appropriate for the driver. I don't have one of these devices in my car, but from what I have seen driving with my friends is that the device tells you what you need to do, and all the driver needs to do is listen. There is no reason to constantly check the display. Now, I don't want those instructions, so I when I am going to a new place I figure our where I am going beforehand. It seems more dangerous to me to have to look at a map while on the go, and maybe have to make extreme changes in lanes or speed, or fast turns, rather than having the navigation planned in advance. Of course, with the computer telling you the navigation, that is fine. But checking a map to determine the navigation, that just sounds dangerous. You may as well be watching a movie.

        • by tkrotchko (124118)

          "I would argue that the reason we have analogue displays is that they are easier to comprehend."

          This was the argument in car circles once digital readouts started to become popular. Some enthusiasts, apparently looking at Sopwith Camels and P51 Mustangs pointed out that these high performance aircraft used analog, so that must be best.

          The argument fell apart when it was pointed out that the latest aircraft both commercial and military all used digital readout because it got information to the pilot faste

    • by bondsbw (888959) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @09:52AM (#39465821)

      Perhaps the windshield is also a problem. NHTSA should require a camera mounted on the front of the vehicle which will render a new image onto an opaque windshield viewscreen every few seconds.

      Drivers should not be distracted by any moving imagery.

  • by Tanuki64 (989726) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @08:36AM (#39465325)

    Drivers should focus on the street and the traffic and not being distracted by some ads.

  • by msobkow (48369) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @08:43AM (#39465371) Homepage Journal

    For those of you bleating about how this idea will make GPS "unusable", I have one question:

    Have you ever used a paper map?

    Remember the "bad old days" of folding out the map at the side of the road, looking at it, and planning the next leg of your trip?

    That's right: figuring out where and when you have to turn BEFORE you reach the turn. Actually KNOWING where you're going instead of letting a machine do the "thinking".

    This change would not cause the world to come to a sudden end, but it might well force people to think and plan for themselves again. And if that means some brain-dead loser suddenly can't get where they're going, I say "good riddance -- you were a road hazard anyhow, careening around the streets with no idea where you are going."

    • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @08:51AM (#39465427)

      Growing up, I remember the bad old days where my dad was trying read a map at the same time as driving, when I was to young to act as navigator. Or a couple of near hits on his part while navigating a foreign city looking for a specific street sign and not really watching the road.

      He now uses GPS and is probably safer than most of my generation, because he doesn't know texting and isn't addicted to a smart phone, but that's another story.

    • by PortHaven (242123) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @08:54AM (#39465445) Homepage

      Yes, and I remember how often I got friggin lost. Or how !@#$% up it was when the exit was closed and I had to find an alternative route, or the map was wrong (very common).

      I also remember how dangerous it was trying to look at the map, fold it, and plan my re-route all while trying to drive. Or the dangers of having to pull off to the side of the highway, then try to merge back in traffic.

      Do you remember when we didn't even have cars. Oh that was a grand time, no oil changes, no breakdowns, no timing belt failures, and no worry of rising gas prices. Man those were the days.

      Let's hate on progess some more and be elitist arrogant pricks. Hoor-ahhh!

    • People around here sure love FORCING other people to bend to their will. What a great world.

    • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @09:11AM (#39465581)

      Remember the "bad old days" of $SOME_CRAPPY_THING_THAT_OLD_PEOPLE_THINKS_MAKE_THEM_HARDCORE ?

      Fixed that. Some things are just better than other things. Nav systems are one such thing. Further, the best nav systems display the upcoming turn from either the driver's POV or a close-in top-down with forward displayed up. This is helpful when a glance can give indication of where exactly the turn is. This is invaluable particularly with irregular or dense intersetions, where a verbal "turn right in a quarter mile" could yield 20 options.

      I hate driver distraction as much as the next guy, but when one glance down for a quarter second can actually make the driver safer, we'll cope.

      So go be a grumpy old guy about something else, like how Metamucil takes like shit.

    • Yes - I have used paper maps - they are about four feet by four feet, and have about 300 pixels per inch. More pixels per inch that most sat-navs have on their entire screen! Every few miles you have to stop and re-fold them to show where you are - not too popular if you are driving a 44 ton truck. Alternatively requiring a passenger to do it and feed you instructions - who may start arguments ever few miles along the lines of "you should have turned left at the last junction, not right/you said right/yes,
    • by enjar (249223) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @09:17AM (#39465623) Homepage

      Maps are only useful when the municipality you live in has marked the roads properly. Here in Massachusetts they mark cross-streets only, not the road you are on. And even then the signs are in non-uniform places, have different colors (some black on white, others white on green, still others white on brown, some have a mix), different sizes and sometimes they are not there at all. And they also compete with the billion other signs out there. There is no interest in upgrading, standardization or other things to make it better. The roads are not arrayed in any sort of logical grid, either. In certain cities like Boston, there are a collection of one way streets that can make getting back on track really confusing. Not to mention aggressive drivers, pedestrians with a death wish, etc.

      GPS has been the most revolutionary technology to allow me to get somewhere the first time. Previously when I'd have to go somewhere new, I'd get out my map, use mapquest, try to get directions first. Then I'd try and follow those directions. Sometimes they worked, other times not. I'd then call the place I was trying to go, and the first thing they asked -- what street are you on? You can't tell! You'd be reduced to trying other landmarks (I'm near a Dunkin Donuts next to a Catholic Church with a bar across the street), dead reckoning, the position of the sun (if you can see it), watching birds fly, etc.

      So, yes, I am quite well versed in how to use a map. I can read and use road maps, topo maps, directions written out on a napkin. The GPS fills in all the gaps nicely to let me get where I'm going when something goes wrong, which can happen due to any number of circumstances beyond my control. It also talks to me so I can prepare for turns and don't need to take my eyes off the driving. It's a wonderful technology and I'd hate to see it crippled my some lame-brained administrator.

      • by msobkow (48369)

        I fail to see how whether a map scrolls is going to affect whether it displays "unlabelled" streets.

        All the article talks about is removing the scrolling of the maps. It doesn't say anything about disabling the audio cues as to where to turn, nor does it say anything about disabling the locator functions of a GPS unit.

        So back to my key point: even without scrolling, a GPS is a hell of a lot more convenient than a paper map. But without the scrolling, you'll be encouraged to plan ahead. And I firmly

    • by egburr (141740) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @10:39AM (#39466045) Homepage

      There are so many streets out in the area I''m at that either don't have signs or have small, hard-to-find signs (imagine trying to find a sign on a random corner of an intersection of a 4-lane-plus-turn-lanes road and a 2-lane side road, with trees and poor lighting). Often by the time I've found the sign, assuming I even find it at all while making sure I don't hit something, I've gone right through the intersection I was supposed to turn at. I've seen a lot of accidents and close calls caused by people slowing to a crawl coming up on an intersection, presumably trying to find the sign to see what street they've reached, sometimes swerving into the turn lane at the last second. I don't want to be one of those.

      For some reason, the DOT out here doesn't seem to have heard of the concept of putting the signs up on the traffic light cross-poles or even putting up signs on multiple corners of a large intersection.

      I love my GPS just for that.

      It's just an added bonus that I don't have to pull over and pick up the tattered old map to remind myself which tree-named street I want again, and is it the 3rd or 4th turn after the last major intersection that I haven't reached yet, and then is it left-right-right-left or left-right-left-left once I get into the subdivision. It's not because I can't use a map of because I'm lazy, but the GPS is so much easier and a time-saver, that I am able to concentrate more on the driving and not on where I'm trying to go, that I feel it's much safer to use the GPS than to not use it.

    • Parent post approach is great for all those persons living in a dream world where you never miss your turn. In my real world, if I need a map to find my route from A to B, things are complex enough that I might well miss a turn. Maybe I'm in the wrong lane for it; maybe the turn is closed by construction; maybe it is raining or snowing so hard I cannot read the signs.

      The GPS will tell you immediately when you have gotten off course. No more "I should have made that left turn in Albuquerque". Which is espec

  • Drivers should be able to handle seeing stuff moving about without being distracted - otherwise they wouldn't able to drive (nor should they be allowed to drive). Using their logic they should ban all animated/video advertisements near roads.

    I think many drivers can cope with these moving displays and even talking on the phone - just takes enough practice and proper training[1] (pilots and others manage fine). The problem is when drivers do it on public roads when they haven't reached that level of skill.

    [1
  • Velocity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Sunday March 25, 2012 @08:48AM (#39465405) Homepage

    Not only that, but the car's velocity would no longer be conveyed with a static display. It's why digital numeric-readout speedometers were a failure in 1980's Fords -- they didn't convey acceleration.

  • NHTSA = dumb !@#$% (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PortHaven (242123) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @08:52AM (#39465429) Homepage

    1. All this will do is encourage people NOT to waste $2,500 on in car GPS units and use their cell phones handheld or mounted to their dashboards.

    2. It clearly shows the NHTSA hasn't done any real research on this issue. If they had, they would have come out with a much different solution. My own independent research has made it clear that GPS units screen movement are not the issue but the location of the unit. (off to the right, centered in console)

    Safety would be greatly improved by relocating the GPS console to the driver's side directly in line of sight, and with a night heads-up display even better. Why is this? Because having it in the center of the console forces drivers to look away from the road, and offers ZERO reduction in distraction. However, placement in front of the driver's line of sight does something interesting. Even when the driver is distracted by looking at the screen, the road remains in the driver's line of sight, and the driver's peripheral vision remains on the road.

    Peripheral vision is attuned to movement. A driver is able to still be alerted to an incoming car or obstacle even while focusing on the GPS screen when it is position properly.

    D@|\/|N Government....

  • by Anonymous Coward

    While we're at it, why not get rid of all those other dynamic displays: gas gauge, speedometer, rear-view mirror ...

  • by confuscan (2541066) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @09:00AM (#39465491)
    Cell phone use is being banned in cars because studies showed that you effectively drive "drunk" when you're talking on the phone. Science wins on that one. What's the equivalent evidence for GPS systems? I haven't heard of anything. In fact, GPS systems appear to have been designed to minimize such distractions, allow easy and quick referencing and along with voice instructions, allow relatively safe navigation. I think science wins on this one as well. Scrap the regulation.
  • Freeze (Score:4, Insightful)

    by markdavis (642305) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @09:05AM (#39465535)

    While they are at it, perhaps the tachometer and speedometer should be frozen, since they could be distracting. Make the turn signal indicators solid... that blinking can be distracting. Better make sure there is no sweep/seconds hand on any clock.

    And passengers- especially children, those should be frozen too. They are MAJOR moving distractions.

    Oh- they should repaint all the lines on the roads to not have dashes, since those appear to be moving. Mirrors....

  • We have so many out of control bureaucracies and they tend to survive by never pushing people too hard too fast.

    However, every so often they go WAAAY too far and piss so many people off that it causes everyone to ask seriously "can you make me?"... and the reality is that if they try to cash this check it will bounce.

    So they should do it. And the TSA should strip search people. And the FCC should start censoring the internet.

    All great ways for overblown bureaucracies to cut their own throat.

  • by NEDHead (1651195) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @09:21AM (#39465657)

    If I wanted updates on my driving every few seconds, I wouldn't bother to duct tape my wife's mouth.

  • As people would look longer at the GPS to try and wait for the refresh, they'll start crashing into things more often. Better to ban them outright than do this.
  • If the goal is to remove distractions, all vehicles should have the driver in an isolated compartment. No fussing kids or conversations with the passengers to take their focus off the road.

    While a GPS can be distracting, it also has that great benefit of allowing people to pay more attention to the road and other vehicles, instead of scanning for street signs and building numbers.

  • by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @10:29AM (#39465987)

    We need an information based way of considering these things. A measurement of how much total distraction a car is allowed to give the driver. Then we can use that metric to allow or disallow various things.

    It's perfectly safe for a driver on an open highway to use a cell phone. If he has a manual transmission, less so. If he's drinking coffee too, probably unsafe. A driver may be able to handle a GPS safely if it's in visual format for faster integration. Perhaps the car should allow no more than two of: manual transmission, radio, cell phone, GPS.

    It's been proven that talking on the phone is almost as distracting without the headset.

    My point is by worrying about where the driver's eyes are they're taking entirely the wrong approach.

  • by yodleboy (982200) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @10:51AM (#39466113)
    It's so comforting to know that everyone on slashdot is a perfect driver and incredibly adept at navigating by map or reference to the stars. You guys are really amazing, your smugness is so well deserved! I feel so SAFE when I drive by one of you, map in one hand, bagel in the other and driving with your knee while valiantly resisting the spread of distracting technology!

    Now, judging by most of the people I see on the road, you guys are in the overwhelming minority. Ban GPS entirely, and bad drivers will keep finding ways to be bad drivers.
  • by grumling (94709) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @12:25PM (#39466727) Homepage

    I don't think GPS moving map displays are the problem, at least after the first few times you use one. The larger issue is the terrible touch UI. It just isn't a good system when driving. I used to have an N95 that I used for navigation and as an MP3 player. I could easily search/spell using T9 without looking or with just a quick glance to make sure it had the correct spelling while driving. Now that I have an Android phone, I have to look at the screen to do anything because there's no way to feel the keyboard under my fingers. It is FAR more distracting to the point that I often need to pull over just to pick a new album.

    I'm really looking forward to next generation systems that don't need touchscreens. The new Audi nav system that lets you draw letters on a console mounted touchpad is a good start. Steering wheel controls that could interface with phone's bluetooth HID protocol and act like a joystick mouse would be better.

  • by swb (14022) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @12:29PM (#39466777)

    I know there's a lot of complaints about distractions, specifically cell phones, texting, smartphones, etc but has anyone reached the conclusion that driving is somehow more dangerous than it used to be?

    I'm a little concerned that we're managing by statistics and only interested in lower numbers, which is not evil, it seems kind of misleading and leads to kind of draconian ideas to find the changes necessary to alter the statistics without taking into account some kind of bigger picture.

    For example, if N people are killed or seriously injured due to futzing with a GPS, we decide to make the GPS less useful, without ever understanding that pre-GPS X people will killed or seriously injured fumbling with a piece of paper, looking for street signs and trying to read addresses in traffic.

    I don't know if N or X is the larger number, but what if they are the same? We can't ban fumbling with a sheet of paper, but we can ban or hinder GPS. We may "solve" the GPS deaths but we just end up re-creating the other navigation deaths as well as inconveniencing people who otherwise find great benefit in GPS devices.

At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer you will find at least two human errors, including the error of blaming it on the computer.

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