MINI Connected App is a Bad Bad Bad Thing
MINI’s new Connected iPhone App is the worst idea in automobiles since the PT Cruiser was offered with feaux wood paneling. Actually it’s worse than that, because that won’t cause thousands of accidents and perpetuate the instant gratification, communication and puppy-dog neediness the flood of social media is creating. This will. Even worse, I saw it coming, and I bet within two years every car will have it. Read on for figures showing why this idea is so bad, and more ranting.
The big concern with cell phones has been the oh-so-scary demon known as “distracted driving.” Distracted driving (of course) means talking on the phone and texting, but it also includes, eating, drinking, changing radio stations (mp3s, same thing), iPods and even just talking to passengers. It’s great for the CA CHP. They’ve written 283,000 tickets for use of handheld cell phones (as of mid-September 2010). They made buckets of money, sure, but they probably did prevent a lot of accidents.
When I had an old clam-shell phone I could text with one hand without looking, and I did. But with a smartphone with a touch screen, I don’t. It takes my eyes off the road for way too long. So the MINI system seems like the way to have your cake and eat it too, right? Some
hot British woman reads your texts and tweets, you stay connected to everything and your eyes stay on the road. Awesome. Except the distraction isn’t from holding a phone to your ear, it’s your brain simply paying attention to someone else. Here’s the definition copied from the DMV’s page:
I laughed pretty hard at number 3. I don’t know how they expect you to drive without looking outside the vehicle, but that’s the DMV; brilliant people. If the NHTSA says simply looking around, or reading (“Wait, is this the Facebook menu or the twitter one…”) how the fuck does anyone think it’s ok for me or you to be driving while trying to come up with a clever tweet, or listen to someone’s inane Facebook status? It’s highly likely whatever it says will have zero effect on your life for longer than 3 seconds and will be forgotten within moments.
“Oh wow! Now I can keep track of Stacy’s level of happiness at work! And I can hear about how big my sister’s new son’s shit was! Oh wow, Zack just made a stupid joke comparing a car to the perineum! Lemme just Google that while I get onto the 405…”
You’re telling me that won’t distract people? How often have you been focused on something (computer, TV, driving, inner thoughts, that woman’s rack,etc) and someone is trying to talk to you. 10 seconds later you realize they’re talking and say, “Sorry, what’d you say?” It’s not because you were reading, or typing, or talking, but because you were processing information and stimuli. Your brain was using it’s power to analyze a subject, instead of listening.
This is why studies have shown a hands-free device does little to help a driver focus compared to holding a phone to their ear:
Neuroscientist Marcel Just, director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, agrees. Just studied 29 volunteers who used a driving simulator while inside an MRI brain scanner. The volunteers steered a car along a virtual winding road undisturbed or while deciding whether a sentence they heard was true or false.
Listening while driving led to a “significant deterioration in driving accuracy,” Just and his co-authors write in the latest issue of the journal Brain Research. The drivers hit the guardrail and veered out of the center of the lane more often while listening.
In the listening situation, MRI brain scans found a 37% decrease in parietal lobe activity. The parietal lobe is associated with spatial processing, so it is critical for navigation. Activity also decreased in the occipital lobe, which processes visual information.
Apply that to your average driver and the result is going to be bad. Apply it to your average twitter/Facebook junkie (people that would stare at their phone while skydiving if they could) and you have more accidents than
an Asian girl’s sweet 16 party Danica Patrick after 3 cups of Jesus juice. The people that have to have these updates are probably bad drivers already. This will easily undo any accident prevention. I understand we want to be connected, and in many aspects of life technology has been priceless (Iranian protest, efficiency, porn). But this is a place where we need to think ahead about what we put in cars. You can’t simultaneously complain about distractions and then put this in. It’s a bad fucking idea.
Besides, MINIs are supposed to be driver’s cars, not a social network wi-fi hot-spot.
“This….this is wrong.” – Dark Knight