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Apple’s CarPlay: iOS in the Car = Deadly New Distractions?

As a cyclist I’ve had some close calls on the road, which is why I use a very bright rear flasher and a daytime running light on nearly all my cycling rides.

Most drivers are prudent, but it’s clear that distracted driving is a serious problem too. Of those situations, some are aggressive drivers, a few are mentally disturbed malicious individuals*, but taking the troublesome minority of drivers as a group, most are simply careless or impatient (an “accident”). Hence my concern about iOS in a car leading to distracted driving.

Along comes Apple with the idea that iOS in the car is a good idea (Apple CarPlay). Since when are messaging and videos and similar distractions a good combination with driving, particularly with teenagers? Teenagers tweeting in cars and watching videos and status updates from friends with built-in iOS makes me nervous. As did a recent incident with two teenage girls gyrating wildly (including the driver) to “do you wanna be my lover” while tailgating the car ahead and passing me on my bicycle. OMG.

Though one might already bow in defeat to the reality of iPhone (ab)use in vehicles already, it is a fair question to ask how many people will end up dead or mangled as a result of inappropriate usage once the idea is accepted by virtue of it being a built-in part of driving. That number is not going to be zero.

To be fair to Apple, it is a general issue and someone is going to do it anyway. I don’t have the answers here, but driving and iOS-like technologies aren’t likely to ever be a good idea. Maybe a multi-way proximity sensor that shuts off functionality would make some mitigation sense, and while I abhor tracking, a “black box” recorder noting usage of messaging and similar features could be appropriate for determining culpability, so “accident” is not an excuse. It is a question that the legislature will have to decide in 50 states. But here in California, text messaging or phone usage is a ticketable offense (wireless link to phone is OK, for both hands on the wheel).

* In one encounter I was hit by a disturbed individual who the CHP neglected to even ticket in spite of a witness shocked by what he saw. That disturbed driver caused an indirect death (heart attack) in a road-rage incident ~2 years later.

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