High-tech gadgets in cars still a distraction - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

High-tech gadgets in cars still a distraction

If you've purchased a car or truck recently, you know about the dazzling array of high-tech standard equipment and options these days.

One automaker is even offering a way to access your social media without using your cell phone in the interest of safety. But how safe is it?

In the popular 1960's cartoon series "The Jetsons," the car flew, deposited family members in pods safely to their destinations and folded into a brief case that Dad took to work. 

We're not quite there yet.

But who would've thought one day we would be talking to our cars and they talk back to us?

Welcome to the future. Not only are our cars talking to us, they help us find our way, warn us of impending danger; even give us weather reports near and far away. 

"New for 2013, we have some interactive apps," said Mercedes salesman Thomas Townsend.

Townsend has sold high-end vehicles like Mercedes for more than 32 years. He says Mercedes takes pride in its emphasis on safety, and he's excited about the electronic wizardry his brand is now offering. 

"It's a connection with Google, Facebook, Yelp and then top news stories," Townsend said.

He said all of it is right on the dash in front of the driver.

Cpl. Odis Easterling of the Mississippi Highway Patrol said, "It could be fine, but the question would be how many people are going to actually use that responsibly?"

"Studies have shown nationally that teen deaths in vehicles are on the rise, primarily because of distracted driving," Easterling said. "I just think it's too much going on that would distract a person from just driving."

But Townsend said unless everyone is forced to turn in their cell phones or other devices, the temptation will always be there. 

Asked if we might as well get used to it, Townsend said, "It's not going to go away, like I said, but making it safe as possible I think that's Mercedes' goal." 

"We live in a technical world. Gadgetry, right now, that is a way of life but at some point as a driver, we're going to have to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions and the only way to do that is to use those gadgets responsibly," Easterling added.

And until technology catches up with the Jetsons and cars drive themselves, that's what we will have to do.

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