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Dashboard Blinders: Next-gen Apple CarPlay announced, safety concerns remain

San Jose, California – During today’s showcase at the Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple showcased its next generation CarPlay system. While modern versions have a single touchscreen in the center channel for functions like GPS and radio, the CarPlay of the future extends this screen into the glovebox exterior and instrument panels for speed, gas and the like.

According to Emily Schubert, an engineering manager at Apple, CarPlay expands from the infotainment screen to even more controls on the vehicle. In the announcement, Apple demonstrated a mockup with a customizable instrument cluster- fully digitalized, with all the visual pop you’d expect from the iPhone’s producers.

“Deep integration lets you change your temperature and radio without leaving the CarPlay experience,” she said.

Infographic courtesy of IAM RoadSmart, a UK-based road safety charity.

As exciting as this technology is, public health and legal professionals warn that innovations like CarPlay may increase cases of distracted driving, a phenomenon many drivers struggle with: vibrant attractive colours are a staple of entertainment for a reason.

According to the Sinas Dramis Law Firm in Michigan,  driver reaction times were doubled when individuals texted or engaged on applications like CarPlay. Hands-free interfaces were barely less distracting than handheld devices like cellphones, ‘increasing the risk of distraction even more.’

‘Apple’s motive to help your eyes and hands stay where they belong seems aligned with public safety,’ writes Jack Becker, a student fellow at the Petrie-Flom Center, Harvard Law’s health law policy wing. “However, it’s reasonable to say that a text message popping up on a brightly-colored car screen is still distracting.”

Becker’s examples for distracted driving also fit Canada’s legal definitions– using a navigation system and taking one’s eyes off the road are grounds for examples for a distracted driving charge, according to Transport Canada.

CarPlay may be helpful for most, just be careful not to become a statistic.

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