Can Drivers Handle More Gadgets? Experts Say 'No' Safety watchdogs are worried about new "infotainment" systems that force consumers to take their eyes off the road. They think drivers can't handle any more distraction. So far, the federal government is taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to legislating distracted driving.
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Can Drivers Handle More Gadgets? Experts Say 'No'

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Can Drivers Handle More Gadgets? Experts Say 'No'

Can Drivers Handle More Gadgets? Experts Say 'No'

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/133218198/133218450" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

As Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports, LaHood isn't the only one concerned about so many new high-tech distractions.

TRACY SAMILTON: Let's say you're driving and there's a kid in the back seat crying. That's distracting. If you remember "The Ed Sullivan Show," you can think of that as one plate spinning on top of a pole.

(SOUNDBITE OF CIRCUS MUSIC AND APPLAUSE)

SAMILTON: Let's say you're also late. That's another spinning plate. You're checking a map on your GPS for directions, and traffic is getting heavy: plate, plate. And if you get too many things going at once, those plates will start to fall.

PAUL GREEN: If your eyes are off the road, and your hands are off the wheel, that's a problem. And if your brain is engaged somewhere else, it makes it even worse.

SAMILTON: David Champion of Consumer Reports says this system and others like it are too distracting.

DAVID CHAMPION: Actually, Ford now, I believe are having a tutorial that they put drivers through before they buy the car, which is ridiculous, really.

SAMILTON: Unidentified Voice: Playing Song "Carve Your Name."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CARVE YOUR NAME")

SAMILTON: So it heard you wrong.

DAVE SULLIVAN: It did not recognize the words "Back Door Man," which is a Sarah McLaughlin song. Instead it's playing "Carve Your Name" by the Nadas, a small Iowa band.

SAMILTON: Adrian Lund is President of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

ADRIAN LUND: People were distracted before, and they're still distracted, they're just distracted by different things, and they're crashing for slightly different reasons. More of them are cell phones, rather than changing a CD.

SAMILTON: For NPR News, I'm Tracy Samilton in Ann Arbor.

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