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NHTSA Suggestion Would Cripple In-Car GPS Displays

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the this-must-just-be-a-bad-dream dept.

Government 516

bricko writes "The recently issued National Highway Transportation Safety Agency guidelines for automakers to minimize distraction for in-vehicle electronics included a proposal to freeze maps on navigation systems. No more scrolling maps...just static pictures. 'Every current installed navigation system uses the car as a fixed point, and shows the map moving around it. NHTSA wants that changed so as to keep the map fixed. Even showing the position of the car moving on the map could be considered a dynamic image. The recommendation seems to suggest that the position of the car could only be updated every couple of seconds. Likewise, the map could be refreshed once the car has left the currently displayed area. This recommendation would essentially make navigation unusable. The system could still give an auditory warning for the next turn, but without being able to glance down at the map and see how close the next street is would likely lead to a lot of missed turns and resultant frustration.'"

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This Is A Bad Idea (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465311)

People will just realize they are about to go the wrong way and change lanes even later than they already do.

Re:This Is A Bad Idea (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465481)

It is a good idea because it means people will actually have to use their brains while driving. It should be illegal for any screen of any type to be visible to the driver of the vehicle.

Re:This Is A Bad Idea (4, Insightful)

kanweg (771128) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465529)

Unfortunately most brains aren't good at multitasking. Well, speaking for myself: Mine isn't. The good thing about a navigation system is that I can pay attention to the road and spend very little time worrying about where to go. I need an occasional glance at the screen to resolve an issue (Navigon isn't very good; TomTom is pretty good), other than that it isn't really a distraction. I've to spend less time watching road signs for directions as the information comes in audio form to me. The info also also always repeated, so I can ignore it if it doesn't suit me because of a complicated traffic situation that deserves my immediate attention.

Bert

Re:This Is A Bad Idea (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465659)

The problem is that it means that people will spend longer looking at the screen. Rather than glancing at it and seeing the layout instantly, they'll have to find the car on the screen, which may mean one or two seconds without their eyes on the road.

Re:This Is A Bad Idea (2, Insightful)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465699)

Very good point. It's an odd example, but kind of applies. In the game Angband (a roguelike), there is an option to keep the map centred on the player. Normally I don't use this, because it slows things down on slower hardware, and the game has my full attention. If however I get teleported somewhere, I do fine myself needing to spend time trying to locate myself, as it's not immediately obvious. It seems silly to place drivers in the situation where they must spend time scanning the map for their car.

Ideally though maybe it's best that devices are required to blank the map when the car is traveling above a certain speed, relying only on audio prompts. Driving along, slavishly following the visual instructions on screen seems about as safe as the practice of trying to read a conventional map while driving. Look at people walking down the road, looking at their mobile phones. Does anyone not regularly have to get out of the way of these people? this shit is too distracting. The last couple of times I've had near misses as a pedestrian have oddly enough been while people were talking on phones, except of course for fucking cyclists who think that stop signals don't apply to them, and will happily weave through a line of people crossing.

Re:Screen (1)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465683)

Glancing at a screen from time to time, while listening to the audio directions is really not much of a distraction. I am stuck delivering pizza at the moment, and I completely *rely* on my GPS. We deliver over a massive area, and the GPS cuts down the time to find a particular address, and the fastest route to it, by a considerable margin.
If you want to eliminate distractions, make handheld cellphones inoperable while moving. I see more people chatting with their cellphone held to one ear than anything else in the way of distractions.
Oh, also eliminate in car stereos that go over about 40 db. I think its important to hear whats happening around you as well.
I don't see a GPS as much of a distraction, provided you aren't trying to input data to the system while you drive. That's a fine-able offense up here in BC anyways (although so is talking on a cellphone and its not being enforced near enough).

Re:This Is A Bad Idea (5, Insightful)

penix1 (722987) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465727)

I always find it amazing that electronic gadgets are a "distraction" yet non-electronic ones are not. You don't see legislation to outlaw paper maps, coffee cups, makeup, food, etc from vehicles. Yet we see state after state as well as the feds weighing in on the rush to make electronic devices illegal or unusable while driving.

Look, it is all about the revenue these laws and regulations generate from the tickets they issue. It has very little to do with safety. If it had something to do with safety they would stiffen the law that covers distracted driving (reckless driving) more and leave the reason for the reckless driving out of it.

In my home state of West Virginia this year they just passed a law making use of a cell phone illegal while driving. That isn't the part that shows it is about revenue. The revenue generator is it was made a primary offense with a stiff fine attached to it. Meanwhile that law does very little for any other form of distracted driving.

Re:This Is A Good Idea (3, Insightful)

echusarcana (832151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465733)

GPS systems are a huge distraction. Do you really need a GPS for day-to-day driving? For most people, how often do you really drive somewhere you don't know? No more than a few times a year. And do you really need a GPS in a city you don't know? No. READ THE ROAD SIGNS! CHECK A MAP BEFORE YOU LEAVE! Folks that drive with GPS seem like some of the worst drivers on the road. Why? They are watching the screen and not the road signs. They are missing the obvious visual clues to where they are going.

GPS laws might not get much traction. Most places it's illegal to drive while on the cell phone but people still do it. Somehow, you put that iPhone in a dash mount and people somehow thing it is now a legal "hands free" device. People need some common sense.

Re:This Is A Bad Idea (3, Insightful)

fooslacker (961470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465757)

It's even worse than that. When the in car navi stops working the way people are accustomed to they will switch to phone based navigation which will require much more attention and cause many more problems. Rather than constantly trying to put genies back in their bottles government out to be researching ways to make them safer while still being useful. Figure out a way to have them be voice activated and respond to natural language queries so the screens become less important to the experience.

If you want to change people's behavior give them something that is a qualitatively better experience rather than just trying to restrict what already exists. This will only drive them to (pun intended) to work around the system with unforeseen and in this case dangerous consequences.

Garmin lobbyists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465315)

I bet the standalone GPS makers are behind this, who would buy a car with a crippled in-dash system if it sucked that bad?

Re:Garmin lobbyists (4, Insightful)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465337)

*shrugs* If I need GPS, I use my cell phone. It has current maps, and doesn't require me to buy a $200 update every few months so I'm up to date.

I also stuff it in the cup holder and just listen to the auditory commands, if I'm using it for navigation. The screen *is* a distraction. If I want to study the route, I'll do it when the car isn't moving.

Actually, to that end, I'm a bit surprised that the NHTSA isn't suggesting that the in-dash navigation systems should blank the screen while the car is moving. That would make things significantly safer, I think.. they could even make it so that if it's pulled out and facing the passenger seat instead of the driver, the screen unblanks and updates, so that a passenger can give directions.

Re:Garmin lobbyists (1)

heypete (60671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465411)

*shrugs* If I need GPS, I use my cell phone. It has current maps, and doesn't require me to buy a $200 update every few months so I'm up to date.

For what it's worth, there's quite a few consumer-level GPS receivers for car navigation (such as those produced by Garmin, TomTom, etc.) that have "lifetime" updates -- the maps are updated quarterly (or so) from the vendor.

I have one of these devices and it's quite handy. Many of the cell phone navigation applications I've seen require that one have mobile phone service to get maps -- they cache a bit of the maps in case one is outside of coverage for a little while but if you're out of coverage for an extended period of time (such as driving on rural highways in Nevada) the maps and directions quickly become useless.

Having a self-contained navigation system has its advantages in quite a few places.

Re:Garmin lobbyists (2)

ixnaay (662250) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465739)

Having driven on rural roads in Nevada, I would hope you don't need a GPS for help - i.e. take next left turn in 115 miles. First business on left (28 miles).

Re:Garmin lobbyists (2)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465507)

The screen *is* a distraction. If I want to study the route, I'll do it when the car isn't moving.

Depends on the cities you drive in. I glance at the screen when I am unsure what the GPS means. Sometimes the device is silent but driving what seems straight to me is the wrong way - I need to keep right (the device would tell me to "keep left" if I actually needed to go straight in that place), this is probably some weirdness in the map.

Also, sometimes two roads are very close to each other, so when the device tells me to "turn right" I need to glance at the screen so see whether should I turn right now or go 15m and then turn right.

I use my UMPC for GPS. It has a bigger screen than my phone.

Re:Garmin lobbyists (3, Interesting)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465647)

*shrugs* If I need GPS, I use my cell phone. It has current maps, and doesn't require me to buy a $200 update every few months so I'm up to date.

I also stuff it in the cup holder and just listen to the auditory commands, if I'm using it for navigation. The screen *is* a distraction.If I want to study the route, I'll do it when the car isn't moving.

Agreed, so the real question is what is preventing people from using their cell phones as dynamic GPS in the future, or is the NHTSA going after ALL devices with GPS technology and guidance software (i.e. even a laptop with Microsoft Streets and Trips)? I doubt their reach will go that far, but anything short of that is basically pointless.

Actually, to that end, I'm a bit surprised that the NHTSA isn't suggesting that the in-dash navigation systems should blank the screen while the car is moving. That would make things significantly safer, I think..

Ah, no, that would make things significantly more worthless. a GPS navigation system without a dynamic visual aide has basically been reduced to the value of a paper map. Might have fixed the problem, but you're sure not going to sell too many $3000 navigation packages on cars.

they could even make it so that if it's pulled out and facing the passenger seat instead of the driver, the screen unblanks and updates, so that a passenger can give directions.

Or the driver could just pull it out themselves and lay it on the passenger seat and use it anyway. Oh, the tech won't turn on because it doesn't sense a passenger (weight sensor tied to the airbag system)? No problem, I'll just set my backpack in the front seat, that usually does the trick.

Try and idiot-proof something, the world will build a better idiot. The real answer here to curb distracted driving is to punish appropriately and ENFORCE IT. Threatening someone with a $200 ticket doesn't mean shit if it's empty threats 99% of the time.

Re:Garmin lobbyists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465349)

It would affect ALL gps so why would standalone unit makers care?

Also, (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465321)

In other news, picture books whose pages are turned every few seconds are set to replace current programming on several major TV stations.

While this move is being decried by futurists, it cannot be denied that it provides a greater source of intellectual stimulation than current shows.

Re:Also, (2)

pommiekiwifruit (570416) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465355)

When you are driving you shouldn't really be watching TV.

Re:Also, (3, Interesting)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465475)

Why not....

I've driven through and watch nearly 3/4 of the original and TNG Star Trek series. It has surprisingly minimal effect on driving. The location of the viewing unit is really what's key and an understanding that you can simply rewind easily if you miss a scene of interest. No, I wouldn't do it with a high action movie like Transformers.

But the location if placed central to driver's view retains peripheral sensory perception, and thus enables you to respond to vehicle movement. The real problem here is the idiots who moved the GPS from in front of the driver, where it should be, to the side/center console, in the name of safety - and in fact created far more danger.

Re:Also, (5, Informative)

Lt.Hawkins (17467) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465601)

So totally off topic, but prompted by your last sentence: I'm currently renting a car, a Toyota Yaris, I think. They moved the WHOLE DASH to the CENTER.

This: http://www.carid.com/dash-kit-gallery/images/dash-kits/Toyota_Yaris_2006-UP_2427BE_A04.jpg [carid.com]

Oh my god, It is the worst ever. I feel like I'm a danger on the road every time I try to check my speed. Who in their right minds thought this was a good idea?

Re:Also, (2)

creepynut (933825) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465629)

If it makes you feel better it's not just the Yaris. The Saturn Ion had it in the centre, and the Yaris's predecessor the Echo had it there too (though both were turned slightly toward the driver.

I love it in my Yaris actually, but I'm probably a minority because Toyota moved it back to the more traditional location for 2012.

Re:Also, (1)

Cramit (609487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465717)

So totally off topic, but prompted by your last sentence: I'm currently renting a car, a Toyota Yaris, I think. They moved the WHOLE DASH to the CENTER.

This: http://www.carid.com/dash-kit-gallery/images/dash-kits/Toyota_Yaris_2006-UP_2427BE_A04.jpg [carid.com]

Oh my god, It is the worst ever. I feel like I'm a danger on the road every time I try to check my speed. Who in their right minds thought this was a good idea?

My xA has the same setup. It's fine...if your staring at the speedometer, you're doing it wrong. You should be glancing down and with the xA the gauges are almost always in your peripheral vision. This means that our eyes are mostly on the road ahead.

Bunch of idiots (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465323)

I swear, government must be run by the lowest common denominator.

Your brain will easily tune out a smoothly scrolling picture that has minute changes one frame to the next. A change in the visual environment that is small will not trigger a threat assessment by the brain.

However, if the image is still, and then suddenly changes, that is a far more significant change in the visualized environment, and the brain will tune to it to see if that change represents a threat.

Re:Bunch of idiots (3, Insightful)

circusboy (580130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465521)

It's run by the people you elect on a regular basis. At least in the country where this story is relevant...

Re:Bunch of idiots (3, Insightful)

aslagle (441969) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465673)

You think the NHTSA is run by elected officials? The vast bulk of them are bureaucrats who stay on from administration to administration.

Re:Bunch of idiots (3, Insightful)

kanweg (771128) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465553)

Not to mention that you may start watching the screen frequently in anticipation when a new screen is about to appear and you need the info.

Bert

Re:Bunch of idiots (2)

bunratty (545641) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465645)

Not to mention that you would then need to mentally rotate the image to determine which way you are going and which way you would need to turn. It would be worse than the maps installed on building walls that you need to mentally flip to visualize how the map corresponds to the building, because you would have to do the flip while driving, which would be even more distracting than the current GPS maps. Do others know what I'm talking about? If not, I found a paper about it [tandfonline.com] .

Re:Bunch of idiots (3, Insightful)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465571)

government must be run by the lowest common denominator

That is what democracy means!

Want a great example? (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465633)

Look at the dearth of numerical LCD gauges in cars. Why is that? We used analogue meters back in the day because, well, that's all we had. However in a modern car, that instrument cluster is part or all digital on the back end. It has to convert the digital signals it gets to the analogue gauges. So why not go for digital LED numbers? Cheaper to produce, and more accurate. You'd know your speed down to the MPH (presuming the unit that reads it is that accurate). In fact there were some cars with them at one point, but they seem to have gone away.

Well the reason is it is distracting. If you put a big LCD speed readout there it's abrupt changes distract the driver more than the smooth movement of a needle. Quick changes catch the eye, smooth motion not as much.

Same would hold true for something like this. A smooth updating map that scrolls along with car movement isn't very noticeable. Something suddenly changing draws the attention.

Next billboards close the street, please. (5, Insightful)

Tanuki64 (989726) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465325)

Drivers should focus on the street and the traffic and not being distracted by some ads.

Re:Next billboards close the street, please. (4, Insightful)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465665)

Drivers should focus on the street and the traffic and not being distracted by some ads.

You bring up a great point actually, especially in the day of the electronic billboard. They're all over the place here, it's like looking at a HUGE TV screen...gee no distraction there...

Hyperbole much? (1, Insightful)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465327)

"This recommendation would essentially make navigation unusable."

Paper maps don't scroll OR indicate where you are. They've been providing perfectly usable navigation services for thousands of years.

Oh, you mean "automated I'm too lazy to figure out where I'm going before I start the trip because I can't be bothered to learn which way is north" navigation?

I don't see anything outlawing voice systems. Do you?

Re:Hyperbole much? (1)

Toddlerbob (705732) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465367)

I agree. Hyperbole much. I use GPS all the time, and never look at the screen. I just listen to the voice. One reason I don't look at the screen while moving is that it doesn't seem like a safe thing to do. The other is that it's totally unnecessary

Re:Hyperbole much? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465503)

I don't know where in the world you're living. In the US, most crossings that I encountered were at right angles and a simple "turn left"/"turn right" is sufficient. In the European cities that I've visited so far, this can quickly be too little information. I regularly come across situations where a simple "turn left" voice command is just not enough to distinguish between the two or three options that may be there (I'm not kidding, these crossings exist). Without a map showing which way I'm supposed to take, I'd be completely lost.

Re:Hyperbole much? (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465731)

I don't know where in the world you're living. In the US, most crossings that I encountered were at right angles and a simple "turn left"/"turn right" is sufficient. In the European cities that I've visited so far, this can quickly be too little information. I regularly come across situations where a simple "turn left" voice command is just not enough to distinguish between the two or three options that may be there (I'm not kidding, these crossings exist). Without a map showing which way I'm supposed to take, I'd be completely lost.

And most good GPS navigation systems will say "bear left", rather than "turn left" when there's multiple choices.

Most cities that have these kinds of intersections have replaced them with roundabouts, which eliminate the problem you describe. (if you want a good example of the kind of issue being described, go to http://maps.google.ca/?ll=48.853153,2.369013&spn=0.011366,0.027874&t=h&z=16 [google.ca] (or in case Slashdot mangles the link, search for "Place de la Bastille, Paris, France")

Re:Hyperbole much? (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465559)

I've only ever used a GPS system once. I never bothered to look at the screen except to set the destination - the voice was adequate for the task.

Re:Hyperbole much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465393)

so, removing completely your eyes from the road to read the map opened on the passenger seat for what, ten-twenty seconds while you are trying to find your position in it while you drive is really less distracting than keeping track of your navigator clearly displayed and immediatly recognizable while watching the road?
are you sure?

Re:Hyperbole much? (3, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465483)

Indeed. I refuse to use a GPS where I can't have a map with north up, but instead have to rely on the constantly shifting view made for people who can't read maps nor think further ahead than the next turn, but can only relate to the direction the car is going in right now.
What's really sad is how such a large part of the population lacks skills that were common. Like estimating distances, giving correct change without a calculator, making a meal from scratch or reading a map. People don't use technologies to make things they know how to do easier, they use them so they won't have to learn something in the first place.

At my best estimate, this Great Age Of Ignorance became mainstream in the late 80s, early 90s, and has continued since. There used to be a saying that someone was so dumb that they couldn't find their ass without a map, but these days, the average Joe or Jane would look dumbly at the map.

If you can't read a map but rely on POV views, I don't want you on the roads without special dispensation and training. You have no spatial awareness, and are a danger to others.

Re:Hyperbole much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465597)

Most navigation devices can switch to a north only view. Your car stays in the center at all times and the map shifts around.

Re:Hyperbole much? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465563)

Indeed. If you don't know where you're going, have your passenger navigate. If you don't have a passenger, pull the fuck over and read the map until you do know where you're going.

I don't know about you (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465591)

But I was taught to rotate my map to that it faced the direction I did.

Re:Hyperbole much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465631)

No, its called you're twisting things. Reading a map while driving is way more distracting than an in dash GPS system (continuous scrolling or not)

But I do agree with a screen updated every now and then wouldn't ruin navigation, in fact older versions of Google maps did this (it would scroll the map so you're closer to edge you're driving away from, and once you got close enough to another edge it would quickly scroll so you'd now be on the new section of map.

Re:Hyperbole much? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465641)

Paper maps are also more distracting than a GPS.

Re:Hyperbole much? (2)

FunkDup (995643) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465671)

Paper maps don't scroll OR indicate where you are

Which is why you can't look at them while you're driving. GPS scrolling is safer (than what the NHTSA is proposing) because the car is always in the centre of the screen. You can actually look at it and then back back at the road in a safe amount of time because you don't have to find the car on the map.

Re:Hyperbole much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465713)

The point I'd like to make is that maybe Gov't should GTFO of our lives. They taught us that we were the "Land of the Free" in school, and that's quickly degenerating into nothing but a fucking slogan these days. I think most of us slashdotters are intelligent enough to run our own lives. I've seen many government employees before, and they sure as hell aren't the people I would consider so mentally superior to me that I'd have them running my life. Just the other day I was at a school and one of your good 'ol gov't employees said this over the intercom: "students, we need to rationalize our water today...". Do you really thing these people are that capable of telling us all what to do? What study do they base any of this on?

Re:Hyperbole much? (4, Insightful)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465737)

For that reason, paper maps are *far* more dangerous to use while driving. No use glancing at them, you need to look at them for a bit to orientate yourself and make sense of them. Yes, you could study the map before you leave, but most people are not really able to memorize the complete route, and it certainly isn't easy to re-route if you miss your turn.

Our former head of traffic police (in the Netherlands), who is notoriously averse of gadgetry in cars, quoted several studies that navigation systems are by far the safest option for navigating an area that you're not familiar with, winning over memorizing maps, having paper maps in the car, stopping to ask directions, or just winging it. The one thing that is safer is having a co-pilot with either a paper map or a GPS.

So? (0)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465329)

Who wants to pay for a built in GPS? Just use what's on your smartphone, or buy a stand alone unit. Either is cheaper, both in initial cost and to keep up to date, than one provided by an auto manufacturer. And, the NHTSA has nothing to say about it.

And passengers will.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465333)

be required to hold their breath the entire trip .....

You think that's bad? (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465341)

My phone came with a GPS navigation app. Any time it is moving, it blanks the screen and says "GPS Navigation Not Allowed While Moving."

Re:You think that's bad? (4, Insightful)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465451)

Well that's moronic. What if you're the passenger. *sheesh*

Re:You think that's bad? (1)

Assmasher (456699) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465469)

Lol - Navigation not allowed while Navigating...

Smartphone integration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465361)

This would just mean that automakers need to focus on smartphone integration where you can just plug your smartphone into a dock built into the dash where the CD player normally is and the smartphone acts as the CD player's screen. I know a car or two has iPhone integration similar to this. Unfortunately, Google needs to get their act together because their 3rd party hardware support is nowhere near the iPhone's. They need to start putting out consistent hardware that can be targeted for hardware integration like this.

Re:Smartphone integration (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465541)

This would just mean that automakers need to focus on smartphone integration where you can just plug your smartphone into a dock built into the dash where the CD player normally is and the smartphone acts as the CD player's screen. I know a car or two has iPhone integration similar to this. Unfortunately, Google needs to get their act together because their 3rd party hardware support is nowhere near the iPhone's. They need to start putting out consistent hardware that can be targeted for hardware integration like this.

Actually, my Android phone has no problem integrating with my car. If I want to use the Android phone as the controller, I can play music through the car's stereo using Bluetooth, and if I prefer that the stereo do the work, I can plug the phone into the car's USB port and mount it as a thumb drive. In both cases, the steering-wheel mounted audio controls work for changing track.

There's no standard dock for Android, so having a simple dock you can plug into on the dash isn't going to happen, but there's no shortage of systems that will let you integrate with the car. In fact, my car integrates better with Android than it does with an iPhone, because the iPhone itself doesn't like being used in that way.

encroaching on freedoms (0, Troll)

aurispector (530273) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465365)

Yet another example of big government encroaching on personal liberties and freedoms in the name of safety. Soon we'll be so safe we won't need to leave our houses! We won't be allowed, either.

The game isn't liberal vs conservative - that's just a red herring. Freedom vs tyranny is the real issue.

Re:encroaching on freedoms (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465395)

And how does becoming dependant on a big government project, GPS, for navigation help you get more freedom. Soon, the governent won't even need to put barriers to prevent protests, just stop sending correct GPS signal for the area.

Re:encroaching on freedoms (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465489)

This is the government telling us what products company's can't manufacture despite there being a market demand and despite the product not being in violation of any laws. And despite the product not infringing on the rights of others.

Before you say anything, the same does not apply to many other regulations. For example, emission and gas millage standards affect the environment and since the environment is a common good used by everyone and something like poor air quality impedes others right, it is ethical to regulate it. A person does not have the right to take away the rights of another person.

Just a public service announcement, since the election is coming up in the US, if this makes sense to you and you agree, you might be a Libertarian.

As a side/personal note: the only car accident I ever got into was because I was in a city and didn't have a GPS so I had to spend more time trying to read street signs on the side of the road than actually watching the road. A GPS allows me to focus on what is important, being aware of other vehicles and people on the road, instead of what can easily be replaced by a machine (knowing exactly what the name of that street I am approaching is).

Re:encroaching on freedoms (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465711)

LOL, I'm a libertarian. The only time I got in an accident was that time I didn't have a connection to a hundred billion dollar government military project to tell me where to turn. ROFL LOL

Ever hear of a "map"? (4, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465371)

For those of you bleating about how this idea will make GPS "unusable", I have one question:

Have you ever used a paper map?

Remember the "bad old days" of folding out the map at the side of the road, looking at it, and planning the next leg of your trip?

That's right: figuring out where and when you have to turn BEFORE you reach the turn. Actually KNOWING where you're going instead of letting a machine do the "thinking".

This change would not cause the world to come to a sudden end, but it might well force people to think and plan for themselves again. And if that means some brain-dead loser suddenly can't get where they're going, I say "good riddance -- you were a road hazard anyhow, careening around the streets with no idea where you are going."

Re:Ever hear of a "map"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465417)

And we could hunt for our own food too, and maybe chop trees to build our own houses. Yes Progress is bad you are right.

Re:Ever hear of a "map"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465425)

Street level maps not available for a lot of places... actually, it is mostly not available unless you live in a city. Otherwise it is just highway maps. And those won't tell you exactly where a turn is, so you have to watch for signs. And if you are lucky, there will actually *BE* signs.

GPS units are a huge improvement over maps, and not just because they are interactive.

Re:Ever hear of a "map"? (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465427)

Growing up, I remember the bad old days where my dad was trying read a map at the same time as driving, when I was to young to act as navigator. Or a couple of near hits on his part while navigating a foreign city looking for a specific street sign and not really watching the road.

He now uses GPS and is probably safer than most of my generation, because he doesn't know texting and isn't addicted to a smart phone, but that's another story.

Re:Ever hear of a "map"? (5, Insightful)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465445)

Yes, and I remember how often I got friggin lost. Or how !@#$% up it was when the exit was closed and I had to find an alternative route, or the map was wrong (very common).

I also remember how dangerous it was trying to look at the map, fold it, and plan my re-route all while trying to drive. Or the dangers of having to pull off to the side of the highway, then try to merge back in traffic.

Do you remember when we didn't even have cars. Oh that was a grand time, no oil changes, no breakdowns, no timing belt failures, and no worry of rising gas prices. Man those were the days.

Let's hate on progess some more and be elitist arrogant pricks. Hoor-ahhh!

Re:Ever hear of a "map"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465479)

Yeah, I remember paper maps. They're crap as soon as you hit construction. You have to pull over somewhere and figure out a new route - and hope IT isn't bugged by construction. A GPS can re-route on the fly and all I have to do is listen to the cues.

You might as well be waving your fist in the air yelling "In my day.... Get off my lawn..."

Re:Ever hear of a "map"? (1)

HeadlessNotAHorseman (823040) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465533)

It's easy to be critical, but there are many people who do not have strong spatial reasoning skills for whom reading a map is actually quite difficult. They respond much better to verbal instructions. Maps have long given a technological advantage to those with a spatial reasoning bent - GPS just evens the playing field.

I personally prefer to use a map, but a GPS is a great tool for me in an unfamiliar area when I approach unexpected traffic conditions, or make a wrong turn accidentally, or need to make a detour. It saves me having to pull over and do the whole map thing. When I do use the GPS I turn the sound off (I find the verbal instructions offputting) and just glance at it now and again. It can be done safely (it takes no more time than glancing at my speedo), so really the safety issue is more about the driver than the technology.

Re:Ever hear of a "map"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465545)

I also remember the "bad old days" of endless unlabeled streets and untagged street numbers, and so driving up and down the road several times looking for a turn or building. Yeah, I can get where I need to go, but it's frequently a pain in the ass in some areas.

Key word in your post if FORCE (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465547)

People around here sure love FORCING other people to bend to their will. What a great world.

Re:Ever hear of a "map"? (5, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465581)

Remember the "bad old days" of $SOME_CRAPPY_THING_THAT_OLD_PEOPLE_THINKS_MAKE_THEM_HARDCORE ?

Fixed that. Some things are just better than other things. Nav systems are one such thing. Further, the best nav systems display the upcoming turn from either the driver's POV or a close-in top-down with forward displayed up. This is helpful when a glance can give indication of where exactly the turn is. This is invaluable particularly with irregular or dense intersetions, where a verbal "turn right in a quarter mile" could yield 20 options.

I hate driver distraction as much as the next guy, but when one glance down for a quarter second can actually make the driver safer, we'll cope.

So go be a grumpy old guy about something else, like how Metamucil takes like shit.

Re:Ever hear of a "map"? (2)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465621)

Yes - I have used paper maps - they are about four feet by four feet, and have about 300 pixels per inch. More pixels per inch that most sat-navs have on their entire screen! Every few miles you have to stop and re-fold them to show where you are - not too popular if you are driving a 44 ton truck. Alternatively requiring a passenger to do it and feed you instructions - who may start arguments ever few miles along the lines of "you should have turned left at the last junction, not right/you said right/yes, but i didn't mean it.." - which is way more distracting than any sat-nav.

The people who make these laws need to get a grip.

Re:Ever hear of a "map"? (4, Informative)

enjar (249223) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465623)

Maps are only useful when the municipality you live in has marked the roads properly. Here in Massachusetts they mark cross-streets only, not the road you are on. And even then the signs are in non-uniform places, have different colors (some black on white, others white on green, still others white on brown, some have a mix), different sizes and sometimes they are not there at all. And they also compete with the billion other signs out there. There is no interest in upgrading, standardization or other things to make it better. The roads are not arrayed in any sort of logical grid, either. In certain cities like Boston, there are a collection of one way streets that can make getting back on track really confusing. Not to mention aggressive drivers, pedestrians with a death wish, etc.

GPS has been the most revolutionary technology to allow me to get somewhere the first time. Previously when I'd have to go somewhere new, I'd get out my map, use mapquest, try to get directions first. Then I'd try and follow those directions. Sometimes they worked, other times not. I'd then call the place I was trying to go, and the first thing they asked -- what street are you on? You can't tell! You'd be reduced to trying other landmarks (I'm near a Dunkin Donuts next to a Catholic Church with a bar across the street), dead reckoning, the position of the sun (if you can see it), watching birds fly, etc.

So, yes, I am quite well versed in how to use a map. I can read and use road maps, topo maps, directions written out on a napkin. The GPS fills in all the gaps nicely to let me get where I'm going when something goes wrong, which can happen due to any number of circumstances beyond my control. It also talks to me so I can prepare for turns and don't need to take my eyes off the driving. It's a wonderful technology and I'd hate to see it crippled my some lame-brained administrator.

Re:Ever hear of a "map"? (2)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465719)

I fail to see how whether a map scrolls is going to affect whether it displays "unlabelled" streets.

All the article talks about is removing the scrolling of the maps. It doesn't say anything about disabling the audio cues as to where to turn, nor does it say anything about disabling the locator functions of a GPS unit.

So back to my key point: even without scrolling, a GPS is a hell of a lot more convenient than a paper map. But without the scrolling, you'll be encouraged to plan ahead. And I firmly believe that's something a lot of people don't do any more.

Case in point: My friend got lost on the way to his brother's place because his GPS died. He's been living there for over a decade. My friend has driven there many, many times. But he relies on his GPS so much nowadays that he didn't even know how to get there without it!

Myself, I usually remember how to get to a place after I've driven there 2-3 times. I can't imagine ever using a GPS to tell me how to get to some place I visit frequently. And I contend that this makes me a better driver than my lost friend, because if you don't know your own local streets and byways for getting to someplace you visit on a weekly basis after nearly a decade of driving there, you're a wandering, lost, road hazard.

Some posters seem to think I'm just posting an "I remember when" comment. Apparently I do have to spell out everything a comment implies instead of leaving it up to the reader to do some thinking for themselves about what I've said, because they're too busy looking for something to slam instead of something to think about. What a sad state of affairs when the goal of life becomes making a slam instead of educating yourself.

Re:Ever hear of a "map"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465685)

Yes, I remember it. For that matter, besides road maps I also used paper contour maps and all sorts of more exotic maps with many types of data layered on top (e.g., geology) -- details that makes a road map look like a simple cartoon drawing by comparison. I don't use turn-by-turn GPS systems because I don't need them to figure out where I'm going. Yes, "plan ahead" is part of it, but also using basic navigation clues like where the sun is located to figure out general directions. But the most fantastic in-car map system I've ever used was to hook up my laptop computer to a GPS and plot the path of the vehicle on top of Google Earth satellite imagery in real-time, like this [goopstechnologies.com] . It's awesome. However, there are two caveats: 1) most of this kind of map use is in remote places where regular road maps are entirely unhelpful, and the traffic is correspondingly light or non-existent, so there isn't much issue with paying attention to other vehicle; 2) usually I was working with a team of people, and one of us would drive while the other would navigate using the laptop for directions. I'd never use a system like this inside a city by myself, because as you correctly point out, it is better to have some clue where you are going before hitting the road and paying attention to the traffic. I just look in Google Earth before I leave and have a general plan and a few landmarks (like, north side of river, west of a big sports stadium, tall tower, past the third exit on highway X, or whatever). That's all I've ever needed.

In other words, in-car GPS systems are very useful tools, but I'm with you: they are no substitute for having some idea where you are going. I disagree with the implication that it won't be bad if they are crippled. What they are proposing is a dumb solution. They should put the navigation system closer to the line-of-sight of the driver so they only have to glance momentarily at it. That would solve half the problem.

Training and practice (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465397)

Drivers should be able to handle seeing stuff moving about without being distracted - otherwise they wouldn't able to drive (nor should they be allowed to drive). Using their logic they should ban all animated/video advertisements near roads.

I think many drivers can cope with these moving displays and even talking on the phone - just takes enough practice and proper training[1] (pilots and others manage fine). The problem is when drivers do it on public roads when they haven't reached that level of skill.

[1] One of the tests to pass might be being required to drive from A to B on a simulator through difficult traffic conditions, while answering hearing comprehension questions and doing mental problems (e.g. you hear a sequence of random numbers, you are supposed to say the 5th one each time you get a new number). With time limits for both. If you pass such a test, you'd be a better driver than 99% on the road, the rest would be a danger to you not vice-versa and if we ever meet by accident it would likely be my fault ;).

It's already illegal to watch the screen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465403)

The manuals for these things already advise you that in most states it's already illegal to be watching the screen anyway?

Sounds like a great idea. If you cant follow the endless repeats of "Turn left on Oak Street in 500 ft... 400 ft... 300 ft.." and think you need the scrolling map just to catch your turn, you SHOULD NOT BE DRIVING ANYWAY.

Velocity (2, Insightful)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465405)

Not only that, but the car's velocity would no longer be conveyed with a static display. It's why digital numeric-readout speedometers were a failure in 1980's Fords -- they didn't convey acceleration.

Re:Velocity (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465467)

Not only that, but the car's velocity would no longer be conveyed with a static display. It's why digital numeric-readout speedometers were a failure in 1980's Fords -- they didn't convey acceleration.

Most Motorcycles use a digital readout these days - and as a rider of 15 years with one - can't say I've found a problem with it conveying acceleration to me.

Perhaps though I benefit from also having a useful gauge like a tachometer instead of something pointless like 'manifold pressure'.

Re:Velocity (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465729)

Manifold pressure is actually a useful one for constant diagnostics on a turbocharged engine - if it doesn't come up at all or comes up slowly or late, you've likely got a turbo control issue, if it goes up too high, you've likely got a turbo control issue that could get very expensive very quickly.

Re:Velocity (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465743)

My car only has a digital speedometer. I don't need a display to tell me I'm accelerating. I can feel it!

"Right turn, one hundred meters." (1)

SolemnLord (775377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465423)

"The system could still give an auditory warning for the next turn, but without being able to glance down at the map and see how close the next street is would likely lead to a lot of missed turns and resultant frustration."

Because it is literally imposible for someone to engineer an audio-only alert system for GPS units.

I've used standard GPS units, and I've still missed turn-offs. The only sure-fire way of doing things right is to study a map beforehand, plan ahead, and then pay attention to the road. You know, what we've been doing for the past century.

Re:"Right turn, one hundred meters." (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465575)

"Because it is literally imposible for someone to engineer an audio-only alert system for GPS units"

They're called BSDs (back seat drivers). You probably have one in your family.

Re:"Right turn, one hundred meters." (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465695)

The only sure-fire way of doing things right is to study a map beforehand

That might work in America, but I can assure you that in Europe the very idea is laughable. With journeys of 50 miles, and perhaps 20 junctions per mile, all different, and possibly none with strait on as an option, you are not going to remember more than the first 7 of over 100. On top of which, each junction you have to check that the spoken suggestion is feasible for your vehicle, and legal and plan an alternative if it isnt - while negotiating the junction. (And our lanes are typically (less than 10 foot) wide - but trucks are 8 foot four (2.45M), with mirrors that stick out 0.5M (18 inches) each side!)

You might enjoy a Google-maps/Street-view visit to London!

NHTSA = dumb !@#$% (5, Insightful)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465429)

1. All this will do is encourage people NOT to waste $2,500 on in car GPS units and use their cell phones handheld or mounted to their dashboards.

2. It clearly shows the NHTSA hasn't done any real research on this issue. If they had, they would have come out with a much different solution. My own independent research has made it clear that GPS units screen movement are not the issue but the location of the unit. (off to the right, centered in console)

Safety would be greatly improved by relocating the GPS console to the driver's side directly in line of sight, and with a night heads-up display even better. Why is this? Because having it in the center of the console forces drivers to look away from the road, and offers ZERO reduction in distraction. However, placement in front of the driver's line of sight does something interesting. Even when the driver is distracted by looking at the screen, the road remains in the driver's line of sight, and the driver's peripheral vision remains on the road.

Peripheral vision is attuned to movement. A driver is able to still be alerted to an incoming car or obstacle even while focusing on the GPS screen when it is position properly.

D@|\/|N Government....

Re:NHTSA = dumb !@#$% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465567)

It's ok, this is the Internet. You can type the swear words you think in your head.

Re:NHTSA = dumb !@#$% (0)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465617)

My own independent research

We call those "anecdotes."

relocating the GPS console to the driver's side directly in line of sight,

... therefore obstructing the driver's field of view...

and with a night heads-up display even better.

Now with even more glare!

By the way, if you already do this with your stand-alone unit, you might want to read the warnings in the instruction manual not to, since it will become a projectile in a collision.

technology bad! safety good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465431)

Oh its always good to see something like this put into place. Lets restrict the good and new rather than rewrite the old.

So because it takes a few milliseconds (or a second) to glance down and back up we should kill the distraction. In the first place why even make a law, but if you HAVE to have a law, why cant it be something like "if navigation is going to be built into a vehicle, it must be installed in place of the drives view of the road"?

I just hate how backwards retarded we are at times.

Funny (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465435)

There comes a point when you have to designate a driver as unfit to drive a vehicle. What are they going to try next? Clutter reject the road by insisting all the fire hydrants and road markings are removed?

Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465437)

While I get why they want to do this, I feel this is a case of which is the greater problem, distracted drivers who look at the screen, or dangerous drivers who pull u-turns, late-lane changes, etc when they realize they've missed the turn.

If it were more like wearing Augmented Reality glasses, where you have a transparent overlay on the actual road, the driver could keep their eyes on the road, and the GPS system would only show the detail needed to make the course corrections.

The existing systems require taking your eyes completely off the road. But most people either have a passenger or will actually stop and check the map if they need to. The people that benefit the most are cab, bus and other transit-related drivers.

Other dynamic displays ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465439)

While we're at it, why not get rid of all those other dynamic displays: gas gauge, speedometer, rear-view mirror ...

Not the solution (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465441)

Why does everything come down to the distraction and not the driver. A good driver won't be distracted by a scrolling map, won't answer there phone on the highway and etc....... How about changing the driving test to weed out the drivers who think the world is mario kart. I must get cut off or nearly tboned once a week by an idiot running a red, a stop sign or just not paying attention to the road. So how about getting the drivers who act like children off the road and reserve driving for those of us who can walk and talk at the same time.

Is there a real problem? (4, Informative)

confuscan (2541066) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465491)

Cell phone use is being banned in cars because studies showed that you effectively drive "drunk" when you're talking on the phone. Science wins on that one. What's the equivalent evidence for GPS systems? I haven't heard of anything. In fact, GPS systems appear to have been designed to minimize such distractions, allow easy and quick referencing and along with voice instructions, allow relatively safe navigation. I think science wins on this one as well. Scrap the regulation.

Necessary at times. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465493)

Whilst I don't need a scrolling map all through my journey, what I *do* need is a map of a complex intersection where there are multiple exits (usually from a freeway) within the space of 100-200 years/meters.

In such situations, it can be difficult to work out which is the right exit because often signs are also not 100% clear in those situations.

next up: NHTSA bans paper 'maps' as distracting (1)

vpness (921181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465517)

this move is so amazingly silly. One word: "maps". Some of you might remember those. Remember folding them open in your lap while driving ? I'd like my company to require neverlost (hertz) whenever we're going to a new town. Neverlost or whatever service actually make you a safer driver, gets you to where you're going, *much* more safely, especially when showing up at night, during a weekday, in the rain. This is insane.

What they really need (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465519)

They really need to regulate these GPS "systems" - I can't tell you how many times I've driven into walls or bodies of water because the "system" told me to. I think it's the government's responsibility to keep me safe from these nefarious products that seem to be designed to damage my car.

Freeze (3, Insightful)

markdavis (642305) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465535)

While they are at it, perhaps the tachometer and speedometer should be frozen, since they could be distracting. Make the turn signal indicators solid... that blinking can be distracting. Better make sure there is no sweep/seconds hand on any clock.

And passengers- especially children, those should be frozen too. They are MAJOR moving distractions.

Oh- they should repaint all the lines on the roads to not have dashes, since those appear to be moving. Mirrors....

This is a great idea (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465579)

We have so many out of control bureaucracies and they tend to survive by never pushing people too hard too fast.

However, every so often they go WAAAY too far and piss so many people off that it causes everyone to ask seriously "can you make me?"... and the reality is that if they try to cash this check it will bounce.

So they should do it. And the TSA should strip search people. And the FCC should start censoring the internet.

All great ways for overblown bureaucracies to cut their own throat.

Maybe you need frustration management classes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465583)

I use GPS whenever I'm in an area I don't know.

Like others, I don't look at the screen to see how far it is to the next turn, because the GPS tells me how far it is. Repeatedly if it's a long way. It's just not an issue. "In 1.2 kilometers, turn right on Main Street". "In 200 meters, turn right on Main Street". "Turn right on Main Street". Not too challenging.

Occasionally, I miss a turn. I miss a lot fewer turns than I would if I were distracting myself by staring at a map on a screen, and a lot fewer than I'd miss if I didn't have the GPS, but I do miss turns. You know what? 99 percent of the time that's not an issue, because the GPS will notice and reroute me before the next intersection. Whoopee.

Who gets frustrated over something like that?

They have a point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465643)

In-car navigation systems are incredibly distracting (in particular the built-in ones) , piping up with unnecessary blather. The screen on many of the new hybrids has unnecessary moving diagrams to show electricity moving into the engine, including rotating wheels and moving arrows. Utter crap.

But there's another side to this -- GPS systems enable you to get to your destination faster. Meaning less time on the road congesting roads, less time on the road meaning lower chances of death, less last second dashes across five lanes of traffic to make an interstate exit...you get the idea.

Honestly it's a crapshoot, but given how incredibly dangerous car travel is already, anything to minimize the time spent on road needs to be considered as more than just a convenience.

Every few Seconds? (4, Funny)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465657)

If I wanted updates on my driving every few seconds, I wouldn't bother to duct tape my wife's mouth.

It would lead to more crashes (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465681)

As people would look longer at the GPS to try and wait for the refresh, they'll start crashing into things more often. Better to ban them outright than do this.

Passengers are more distracting (1)

Manfre (631065) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465707)

If the goal is to remove distractions, all vehicles should have the driver in an isolated compartment. No fussing kids or conversations with the passengers to take their focus off the road.

While a GPS can be distracting, it also has that great benefit of allowing people to pay more attention to the road and other vehicles, instead of scanning for street signs and building numbers.

Middle Alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465749)

How about only letting the user interact with the navigation device when the car is in park or the engine is off. The problem is not people watching the map it is playing with or changing the destination. If the car must be stopped and in park then the problem would be greatly reduced. An alternative for portable devices would be no interaction unless the car has not moved for 10 seconds. If the car starts moving in a single direction the user is locked out. The random motion when stopped could be trapped for and ignored.

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