Yesterday, Congressman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. VA) convened an unusual all-day forum in Washington to discuss the use of technology while driving a car. Rockefeller, who is in the middle of his final stint in Congress, said, “Why is it so important for kids to drive around and update Facebook statuses? For teenagers, it’s a way of being cool. For those of you who sell cars, it’s a way of you being cool and making a lot of money from that. How many people have died? How many people have almost died?”
Rockefeller does make a good point. In fact, a number of states have already moved on this initiative by implementing bans on texting and driving. Of course, this has already been at the center of a number of controversies. Some people believe that laws like this are infringing upon personal freedoms. Others have been highly skeptical about courts and police officers even being able to stop the use of handheld technology. After all, it was just last month that a California judge ruled that a woman driving while using her Google Glass would not be punished, citing that there was a lack of evidence to prove that the device was actually in use.
But did Rockefeller waste everyone’s time in Washington this week? Is he just an old curmudgeon who wants to battle the evil of technology? The answer may be yes. Technology is moving at such a fast rate that texting and driving or updating Facebook and driving may come and go quicker than a gust of wind.
Automakers have already been hard at work incorporating technology into new vehicles, which would make it unnecessary for people to text with their hands while driving. One of the leading manufacturers in this movement is Audi. According to reports, Audi and Google have been teaming up to create in-car, voice activated infotainment systems that would render texting and driving obsolete.
In a report from NBC News, author Keith Wagstaff says, “Imagine a future where you’re racing your Audi through the streets and you get lost. There will be no need to pick up your phone. Instead, you’ll just give a voice command to your dashboard, which will bring up navigation software. You will also be able to send an email to your friend telling him you will be late and play your favorite song to cheer you up — all without taking your eyes off of the road or your hands off of the steering wheel.”
Rockefeller, however, is weary of this blooming technology, as well. He says, “I’m very unhappy. I’m very nervous, not just about deaths but about close-to-death injuries. All for the sake of outdoing each other and making more money.” To many, statements like this only make Rockefeller seem like a technologically challenged man. After all, growing up in this day and age requires the ability to multitask. It requires that people be plugged in 24-7, 365. As Will Smith once said, Parents Just Don’t Understand.
What does everybody think about Rockefeller’s statements?