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Are In-Car Devices Getting Out Of Hand?

What’s important to you when buying a vehicle? In today’s tech world it seems buyers care more about how they can incorporate their iPhones, pods, pads into their car than how much gas it gets or how well it will protect them in a crash. That being said 5,500 people died last year due to distracted driving.

The auto companies are quite aware of the facts and are incouraging their drivers to use portable devices by integrating them directly into the cars via bluetooth and ports for the devices. Will the car companies be held responsible or the drivers when all of these distractions keep causing problems?

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — For car shoppers under the age of 31, the biggest factor in deciding what to buy isn’t performance, fuel economy or comfort, it’s the shopping experience and “cockpit technology,” according to a recent study.

Cockpit technology includes things like Bluetooth phone interfaces, attachments for MP3 players and voice-to-text technologies that can allow people to interact with text messages or emails while driving.

There seems to be an intrinsic conflict between safety and drivers’ desires to stay connected while driving.

Car companies will have to deal carefully with that issue, according to researchers at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business, one of four graduate schools that participated in the Deloitte study.

“Regulation keeps trying to say texting is distracting to driving, but for the consumer it is really the driving that is distracting to texting.” the researchers said.

Distracted driving, and texting while driving in particular, has been a particular focus for Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

“In 2009, nearly 5,500 people were killed and another half a million more were injured due to distracted driving. Multitasking with communications devices behind the wheel has deadly consequences, and everyone has a personal responsibility to focus first and foremost on driving safely.”

LaHood has been meeting individually with carmakers to discuss the issue, a spokeswoman for the secretary said.

Automakers are increasingly battling one another to come up with new systems to allow drivers to interact with portable devices while driving.

Ford Motor Co. has credited its Sync system with helping to boost sales. However, Consumer Reports magazine recently withheld its sought-after recommendation from two Ford crossover SUVs partly because the magazine’s car testers found the latest version of the system confusing. Ford Chairman Bill Ford, speaking at the Detroit Auto Show, promised that improvements are being made.

General Motors, meanwhile, is adding new technology to it’s OnStar system including an iPhone application and a system that allows drivers to update their Facebook status by voice.

Read more at Young car shoppers want rolling iPhones – Jan. 12, 2011.

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