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The federal government is coming after your navigation apps

The distracted driving debate is about to get a bit more interesting, as The New York Times is reporting that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is looking to step in and start regulating all in-car navigation devices -- including smartphone navigation apps that millions of Americans use on a daily basis.
 
A new bill proposal would give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the authority to set guidelines for how smartphone apps provide in-car navigation services to drivers. The NHTSA is concerned that users can become distracted when using the current generation of apps, and that such apps should be regulated if further study determines them to be an actual “dangerous” distraction.
 
The proposed regulations would encompass popular navigation apps like Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Waze.


Google Maps
 
Representatives for technology companies are already balking at the proposed legislation. “They don’t have enough software engineers,” said Catherine McCullough, executive director of the Intelligent Car Coalition. “They don’t have the budget or the structure to oversee both Silicon Valley and the auto industry.”
 
Not surprisingly, automobile manufacturers are fully behind the government on this proposal, as many already voluntarily adhere to strict guidelines regarding distracted driving (this is why navigation-equipped vehicles pop up a warning screen when you start of the vehicle, or lock you out from entering in a new destination or changing a waypoint while the vehicle is in motion).
 
Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, added, “We believe that if you’re looking at a smaller screen, that’s less effective than looking at a larger screen on the dashboard.”
 
Auto manufacturers would also love to see the playing field leveled, as more and more drivers are forgoing navigation packages on vehicles -- which can run into the thousands of dollars -- in favor of their smartphones. And there’s also the fact that smartphone navigation apps and maps are updated much more frequently than in-car navigation systems (and who wants to pay $100 for a map update DVD) and provide a greater feature set than even the most advanced in-car systems can muster.

Source: The New York Times



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maps
By Motoman on 6/16/2014 2:52:37 PM , Rating: 5
You wanna outlaw a distraction for trying to find your way while driving, make paper maps illegal first. I can guarantee you that futzing with a paper map is infinitely more distracting than using the GPS on your phone.




RE: maps
By Al Jalaikakik on 6/16/2014 3:17:23 PM , Rating: 3
Also:

“We believe that if you’re looking at a smaller screen, that’s less effective than looking at a larger screen on the dashboard.”

What smaller screen? I run Waze on a tablet mounted to my dash. BIGGER screen than most in-dash nav units.


RE: maps
By BRB29 on 6/17/2014 10:01:30 AM , Rating: 5
Of course the automakers support this. Navi options in cars goes from $1500-$4500

An Android phone with google maps can cost under $300.

When will automakers start charging realistic prices for a navi option? Some cars like Infiniti M series already support Navi but disabled via software and buttons.

It's just another way to get money.

Down with dealerships and Navi options. I never use my onboard navi anyways. The phone always have the most up to date maps, traffic warnings, etc...


RE: maps
By Monkey's Uncle on 6/17/2014 10:20:46 AM , Rating: 2
That trend is changing.

The Navi option in my Ford Focus was $300.

That is because the needed hardware (screen, xm radio, antenna) is already there - all they need to do is put in upgraded software and of course ... maps. The net cost to Ford to add the Navi is about $100 (Mostly for the maps since they have to subcontract those) so they get $200 as profit gravy. Getting navi at $300 is a bargoon for me, and the $200 net profit for Ford helps their bottom line. Win-Win. Everybody happy.

It is not just Ford doing this. There is a growing trend to put big touchscreen infotainment even into base car models. once they do that, the nav add-on is very cheap to do.

Most automakers are starting to put in 6"-8" screens for infotainment & climate control in most of their car lines. Along with that is XM radio. The parts that makes xm radio work also makes navi work. So adding navi becomes really cheap for them (and us).


RE: maps
By BRB29 on 6/17/2014 11:09:54 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
That is because the needed hardware (screen, xm radio, antenna) is already there - all they need to do is put in upgraded software and of course ... maps. The net cost to Ford to add the Navi is about $100 (Mostly for the maps since they have to subcontract those) so they get $200 as profit gravy


The only thing they need is hardware with decent processing and GPS/aGPS. If they want live update, then they need 3G or 4G/LTE. That stuff is cheap and can be bought in barebones for under $30 as a package.

If the hardware is already there, software should not cost $100. These maps have already been around and being given away for free. Businesses pay these maps to be advertised on devices.

At $300, Ford's half baked navi may seem cheap, but it's still a rip off.


RE: maps
By ipay on 6/18/2014 9:54:56 AM , Rating: 2
Not sure I'd call it half baked; seems to be running CoPilot OEM. ALK's stand alone products have been good to me for many years on my carpc.


RE: maps
By boeush on 6/17/2014 5:58:12 PM , Rating: 2
What would be nice, is a way to screen-cast from a phone onto the in-car screen. We can screen-cast from phones to TVs, why not from phones to car console screens? If the console screen was touch-sensitive, and could send touch signals back to the phone, then the loop is closed and perfection is achieved. Which company will be the first to realize the sheer coolness of such a solution, and implement it?


RE: maps
By retrospooty on 6/16/2014 3:27:07 PM , Rating: 5
"I can guarantee you that futzing with a paper map is infinitely more distracting than using the GPS on your phone"

Exactly... Not only that, eating, fiddling with radio, dealing with your misbehaving toddler, all far worse. Seriously feds, get your budgets in order before looking at new useless quagmires to get stuck in.


RE: maps
By TheEinstein on 6/19/2014 5:01:03 PM , Rating: 2
This is because an appeals court ruled on a hand held device conviction where the guy was using a maps function, they said the California law does not allow, and the unpopular nature of taking maps away means the politicians need a 'bit of cover' to get this one going, thus to regain some ticket revenue they will be pushing this through DOT.


RE: maps
By karimtemple on 6/16/2014 3:31:33 PM , Rating: 3
If I was a lawyer, I'd just walk into the room and say either that about paper maps, or probably "Where were you for the past 15 years we were already doing this with Garmin and TomTom?"

What's hilarious though is I can't even think of something they'd regulate. I came up with two ideas and both are stupid: 1) they'd keep apps from letting people report traffic jams and stuff, stupid because if there's a traffic jam you're not driving anyway, or 2) maybe they'd make the app disable use of your phone if it's moving 20+ mph or something, which is stupid because Jesus Christ.


RE: maps
By RapidDissent on 6/16/2014 3:50:08 PM , Rating: 5
First, outlaw being a completely ignorant frackin moron!

The only way to reduce traffic collisions is to provide better training of prospective drivers and increase the difficulty of testing.

For some reason, it was decided that we need committees and legislation and watchdog groups to prevent a kid from seeing a stray boob... but they are willing to leave teaching that same kid how to operate a deadly machine ENTIRELY up to the parent. WTF?! Priorities people!


RE: maps
By Aloonatic on 6/16/2014 5:11:15 PM , Rating: 5
One of the best ways to prevent traffic collisions is to put a nice big, sharp spike sticking straight out of the steering wheel.

That'll get people paying attention to what they are doing.


RE: maps
By Manch on 6/17/2014 9:50:43 AM , Rating: 1
lol the draw back to that is this.

Man driver: Let me know when to exit

As the car passes off ramp the woman passenger yells: Exit here!

Man driver: You need to let me know before I get to the exit! Not as I'm passing it!

Woman passenger yanks e-brake....

or Woman driver:Let me know when to exit

Before the car gets to the exit ramp with ample time for the woman driver to exit the man passenger states: Take the next exit

Woman driver gets flustered: Which one?! Which one?!

Man passenger: The only one there is!

Woman driver now seeing that she is about to miss the exit slams on the brakes.....


RE: maps
By amanojaku on 6/16/2014 5:26:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
For some reason, it was decided that we need committees and legislation and watchdog groups to prevent a kid from seeing a stray boob...
Yes! Because boobs are dangerous curves!!!


RE: maps
By FITCamaro on 6/17/2014 8:08:03 AM , Rating: 2
I don't have a problem with leaving teaching kids to drive to parents. I have a problem with overly easy testing to ensure the parents did a good job. Where I did my driving test, you didn't even go out on the road.


RE: maps
By bug77 on 6/17/2014 10:10:29 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Where I did my driving test, you didn't even go out on the road.


Wth dude, roads are dangerous.


RE: maps
By FITCamaro on 6/17/2014 12:57:33 PM , Rating: 2
Hence my comment that I don't agree with such a test. It should be harder. Driving is a privilege, not a right. And don't quote me crap about what courts say. Show me a constitutional amendment that says its a right, and then its a right. A state can define a right to drive alone, but to my knowledge, none have. Courts don't get to tell us what our rights are. Otherwise they're creating law, not upholding it.


RE: maps
By espaghetti on 6/17/2014 9:16:43 PM , Rating: 2
I'm pursuing my happiness when I drive, officer.


RE: maps
By rountad on 6/18/2014 9:05:08 AM , Rating: 2
The Constitution is designed to define and limit government and its actions, not ours.

Not all rights are enumerated.

They don't originate with the State.

(These are paraphrases of our country's founding)

Opinion: Our rights to free association and pursuit of happiness should only be legally limited by due process after the violation of valid laws (i.e. areas the State has authority and to avoid a direct harm to others)

TL;DR: You've got it exactly backward.


RE: maps
By bug77 on 6/18/2014 10:23:31 AM , Rating: 2
I'd say the same about voting, but it's not PC anymore.


RE: maps
By Monkey's Uncle on 6/17/2014 10:25:38 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Where I did my driving test, you didn't even go out on the road.


My car driving test was on a street with the examiner sitting beside me. The motorcycle 'road test' was done on a closed course - the examiners rattles off what he wanted you to do and he watched from a tower to see you do it. They did not ride with you or follow on another bike/vehicle.

Needless to say, getting a bike license where I live is pretty easy.


RE: maps
By gookpwr on 6/16/2014 6:23:55 PM , Rating: 5
Hows it going to know if its the driver or the passenger using the navigation? My girl navigates while I drive. You're telling me I'd have to pull over so she can pull up the directions? Yeah the automakers can shove this bill up their greedy lobbying asses.


RE: maps
By Manch on 6/17/2014 9:55:30 AM , Rating: 2
Thats why i dont get the in-car navigation anymore. The passenger cant use it. It's annoying as hell. I have an aftermarket one that doesnt impose that limitation. I dont need it when making my way around town. If I do and I'm by myself I set it in the parking lot and then go. If I'm on a road trip which is quite often and I want to see whats near by with these new ones and there nanny controls I would have to pull over. Thats just dumb. Leaves no option for the passenger to use it.


RE: maps
By Murloc on 6/17/2014 12:13:19 PM , Rating: 2
luckily there's none of this stuff here in Europe.


RE: maps
By marvdmartian on 6/17/2014 7:36:27 AM , Rating: 2
Not to mention, look how well the politicians have handled the whole texting while driving distraction. Sure, some states have made it illegal, but do you have any idea of how difficult it is to arrest & convict someone of it?

Usually, we end up finding out, AFTER the fatal accident, that the distracted driver sent a text seconds before the crash.

I do enjoy the hands-free feature of my older Garmin GPS, though, and the fact that I don't have to be messing around with touching the screen, because I can give it voice commands. There's a few dozen instructions I can give it, using only my voice (activated by a remote that attaches to the steering wheel). And while there's still a small distraction, from having to occasionally look at the screen, but it's far less than any model that requires you to utilize the touchscreen.

Do any of the smart phone based GPS navigation apps offer anything similar?


RE: maps
By Rukkian on 6/17/2014 2:47:22 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Do any of the smart phone based GPS navigation apps offer anything similar?


Yes, on my LGG2, I can just say ok google wait a second and give it a command without even needing to hit any buttons. I can say navigate to <destination> and it confirms, then starts about 20 seconds later unless you cancel. The destination can be an address, a saved location, business, city, etc, etc.


RE: maps
By euclidean on 6/17/2014 4:45:13 PM , Rating: 2
Depends on phone model and navigation app being used, but yes.


RE: maps
By soccerballtux on 6/17/2014 2:51:27 PM , Rating: 2
we don't really know what perspective the US DOT has here. I for one am a little bit frustrated with Google's latest maps updates, very frustrating to use during navigation, zooming out to see future turns is laggy and unresponsive. my phone doesn't suck either, I have a quad core with 2 gigs of ram, & I lock it down like a jail to keep things from running around in the background slowing the phone down. (and I need faster zoom out like in yelp maps. whoever develops the maps app must not live in a very large city because I have to create at least 3 zoom out gestures before I get to the perspective that I need. Large city.)

that, and the location detection has been of consistently since maps v7. a quarter mile usually means anywhere from 750 to 1000 feet, and a half mile means about a quarter mile. It doesn't speak the road name as frequently as it used to either, which means when it says turn right it could be one of any three roads are approaching. I didn't use to have these problems with maps versiom 6.

that said, it would probably be something stupid like the phone screen locks and all you can do is simply look at your current position on the map.


The truth is
By SteelRing on 6/16/2014 2:59:11 PM , Rating: 5
The last paragraph is the real reason, nothing but the truth there. With today's environment it's pure folly to buy the Navi package with your car. Back in 2007 when I got mine, it barely made sense but I went ahead and got the navi anyway seeing the other best option at that time was a Garmin on the dash. It's mainly useless now since google maps is far superior by any measure, plus it shows traffic without subscribing to the silly XM traffic.

The automaker knows they have no chance against google maps but if they could nudge the government to do their dirty work for them yet again with only a few million bux in lobbying money, it'll be sooooo worth it for them.




RE: The truth is
By quiksilvr on 6/16/2014 3:32:02 PM , Rating: 5
I always find it frustrating when things like this happen. Look at Tesla. They simply embraced the technology and incorporated Google Maps into their dashboards.

How about just making a dock for our phones that loads up an app to control the music, navigation, phone calls, etc. instead of some nonsensical sub par touch screen that never gets updated?


RE: The truth is
By Reclaimer77 on 6/16/2014 4:33:23 PM , Rating: 1
You can get a head unit that mirrors your smartphone display, I've seen them.

So just save the absurd up-charge on whatever POS solution the dealerships is pushing, and go to your local stereo shop and get a sweet custom setup.


RE: The truth is
By otherwise on 6/16/2014 5:07:39 PM , Rating: 2
Can you provide a link? I was looking for exactly this a couple weeks ago to upgrade my car's head unit (which doesn't even have aux in!), and couldn't find it.

I would switch from iOS to Android for a heartbeat if the problem was the platform.


RE: The truth is
By Azethoth on 6/16/2014 6:55:04 PM , Rating: 2
No need to get drastic. I replaced my ML320's old school radio/cd player with a gizmo from Kenwood that has HD radio, pandora, iPod player + connection. With an additional rear camera I could even see the small child / animal as I slowly back over it. (Slowly to maximize the terror)

I would recommend something with old school knobs, not pure touch like http://www.amazon.com/Kenwood-In-Dash-Touchscreen-... Pure touch is a UI fail, which regret in my system.


RE: The truth is
RE: The truth is
By EasyC on 6/16/2014 5:25:58 PM , Rating: 2
You can just get a head unit that runs Android natively. There are quite a few out there.


RE: The truth is
By DiscoWade on 6/16/2014 6:50:45 PM , Rating: 3
Sirius XM traffic is just plain horrible. Several months ago I had to go to a funeral in Fayetteville, NC. Now Fayetteville isn't a huge city, but it is home to a major army base. It is large enough for traffic information. The route the navigation had us take was US-301 over the Cape Fear river. Only one problem, that bridge is being replaced and thus I had to detour around. But Sirius XM traffic didn't know that. What good is paying for traffic service if traffic is limited to major cities? When the trial ran out I did not renew just because of this reason.


Ah, the smell of Big Government who
By GotThumbs on 6/16/2014 4:56:11 PM , Rating: 4
figures all Americans are stupid and need the governments parenting and support to survive.

Epic fail, but not surprised with the nations current "Leadership", who is currently flying back from Palm Springs at this time.




RE: Ah, the smell of Big Government who
By room200 on 6/16/2014 6:23:25 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
figures all Americans are stupid and need the governments parenting and support to survive.

Epic fail, but not surprised with the nations current "Leadership", who is currently flying back from Palm Springs at this time.


Are you THAT stupid? You know the first people who will back this legislation are the republicans. They are bought and paid for more than anyone else. It doesn't matter the party anymore; you're just too simple and keep playing the "Obama is a terrorist" game.


RE: Ah, the smell of Big Government who
By KCjoker on 6/16/2014 7:29:27 PM , Rating: 2
LOL...dems get paid off way more but it's been going on long before Obama came around so you're right about that.


RE: Ah, the smell of Big Government who
By retrospooty on 6/16/2014 8:35:57 PM , Rating: 5
Are you guys really arguing over who gets paid off the most? Both sides are robbing us blind in unison and they have all the fools blaming the "other side"... You are the perfect example of divided and conquered.


By room200 on 6/17/2014 12:25:52 PM , Rating: 2
Nope, not arguing over it. My point was to say they are pretty much gorging themselves at the same trough.


By Piiman on 6/21/2014 10:29:54 AM , Rating: 2
LOL they BOTH get paid off EQUALLY, you need to get off the my side is better than your side mentality. they both serve the same master his name is Mr. $$$$


Inferior technology...
By villageidiotintern on 6/16/2014 2:43:15 PM , Rating: 3
...needs the force of government to require the population to use it.




RE: Inferior technology...
By FITCamaro on 6/17/2014 1:10:37 PM , Rating: 2
Even better technology uses government to get people to buy it in the form of tax credits to reward you for adopting.


By kilkennycat on 6/16/2014 3:28:07 PM , Rating: 2
I use Google maps turn-by-turn audio navigation when driving in unfamiliar areas. I do not look at the map at all while driving! If I happen to have a passenger they can certainly provide additional help by looking at the map, but if I do need to visually consult the map myself or reset the directions, I stop in a safe place first.

I shall continue to use turn-by-turn audio (courtesy of my Nexus 7 LTE) regardless of any BS government/auto-industry regulation and would love to confront the issue in court if turn-by-turn audio directions ever get "regulated".




By tng on 6/16/2014 5:48:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I use Google maps turn-by-turn audio navigation
I use my phone as a music player, so I can have Google maps running over the bluetooth and it will give turn by turn navigation over the car stereo. The music volume drops and I get a turn direction, music comes back up and away you go. No need to look at the phone.

This works even when I am in my car with an existing nav system that I hook the phone into via a jack. Works fine for me.


Common sense
By notathome on 6/17/2014 8:44:11 AM , Rating: 2
If all drivers were to use common sense and pay attention to the road, we would not need this regulation. This is just an excuse for the government to bring more of our lives under control. That and the automotive industry lobbyists getting too much power.




RE: Common sense
By Grimer21 on 6/17/2014 12:59:01 PM , Rating: 2
To quote DailyTech's quotes:

quote:
"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers."


So they're going to regulate in dash GPS
By glowingghoul on 6/16/2014 2:46:07 PM , Rating: 1
...but not texting while driving? Sounds like a political calculation. Wouldn't want to alienate those precious millennial voters high on "Hope and Change®".




By synapse46 on 6/16/2014 4:53:56 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, sounds like some campaign contributor is losing out to smartphones and is able to fight back in this manner.


Level playing field?
By wookie1 on 6/16/2014 3:06:21 PM , Rating: 3
"Auto manufacturers would also love to see the playing field leveled"

This is not correct. The playing field would be level WITHOUT the regulations. They want to exclude their competition.

The article says that they voluntarily comply with requirements to prevent using the system while the vehicle is moving. If they were worried about smartphone competition, and only voluntarily disabling the use, they could just re-enable it. Of course, they have great lobbying power with the government who until recently owned a huge stake in GM.




My phone has a driving mode
By NaperJ on 6/16/2014 3:21:32 PM , Rating: 3
I'm guessing this is common to the top-end Motorola phones, but it detects when I'm moving faster than walking and goes into a (configurable) mode which announces calls/texts and asks if I want to answer/respond, and does it all hands free without needing to look at the display. The phone is always listening, so I don't even need to push a button to get it's attention. I can control navigation without touching the phone as well.

Of course, the easy way to turn it off is to select "I'm not driving", indicating that I'm a passenger. But, it would be quite annoying if the built-in and phone apps did not have a way to indicate that someone was a passenger and allowed to operate the controls.




Nothing to add
By bug77 on 6/16/2014 3:45:37 PM , Rating: 2
Someone said it before me:
quote:
I'm from the government and I'm here to help.




Texting > Navigation
By SatchBoogie1 on 6/16/2014 6:20:10 PM , Rating: 2
Fix the texting epidemic first. I see more people veer into my lane due to texting than I see them trying to use navigation.

At least almost all GPS apps will talk to you so you don't really have to look at the screen.




What distraction!
By KiwiTT on 6/16/2014 6:45:25 PM , Rating: 2
I simply type in the address into my app and then place down and without even looking at the screen again, I just listen to the turn by turn direction to the destination.




Distracting _______
By coburn_c on 6/16/2014 11:09:31 PM , Rating: 2
Should just set very simple guidelines and encourage them to be followed. This we will meddle in perpetuity is just bureaucratic masturbation. Do some good with the guidelines, nip this advertising s..tuff in the bud.




LOL
By AdamAnon on 6/17/2014 7:46:33 AM , Rating: 2
"Auto manufacturers would also love to see the playing field leveled, as more and more drivers are forgoing navigation packages on vehicles" -- they should level the field by making those vehicle nav packages suck less.




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