U.S. Transportation secretary Ray LaHood said he will not issue a nationwide ban on using cell phones and hand-free devices while driving, as proposed recently by the National Transportation Safety Board. LaHood believes that hands-free calling is not a problem in the United States, and his stance certainly supports the auto and mobile industries. Ford, for example, equips several of its car models with Ford Sync hands-free technology. A ban on hands-free devices would likely prevent the company from selling that product. Hands-free phone calls are “not the big problem in America,” LaHood argued. “If other people want to work on hands-free, so be it.” LaHood has admitted that talking on the phone while driving is a distraction and he toyed with a nationwide ban, but never followed through with it. Individual states, however, have the power to issue statewide bans and there are currently nine states, in addition to Washington, D.C., with bans in effect. Thirty-five states currently ban texting while driving, too. The U.S. Department of Transportation is currently working on a set of safety guidelines that hands-free and in-car entertainment system manufacturers will have to follow, The Wall Street Journal said. More →
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) voted on Tuesday to recommend that all states ban the use of using cell phones while driving, whether for talking or texting. It is also recommending that states ban hands-free devices, which are typically used as a safety measure among those who do place phone calls while driving. “No call, no text, no update is worth a human life,” NTSB chairman Deborah Hersan said. “This is a difficult recommendation, but it’s the right recommendation and it’s time.” States are not required to follow the NTSB’s recommendation, The New York Times said, noting that state regulators can individually choose to implement a law or ignore the recommendation altogether. More →
A new research study published by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) suggests that cell phone use directly increases crash risk among U.S. drivers. The group studied 350 scientific papers that were published between 2000 and 2010 on highway safety. Distractions, which include cell phone use, are responsible for between 15% and 25% of all crashes, including minor fender benders all the way up to fatal accidents. The report also said that there is “no conclusive evidence on whether hands-free systems [are] less risky than hand-held use,” and that results of several tests “imply dialing a cell phone increases crash risk more for a short time while a cell phone conversation increases crash risk less for a longer time.” As you might expect, texting is an even larger risk since it requires that a user look at his or her phone for a longer period of time. “Despite all that has been written about driver distraction, there is still a lot that we do not know,” Barbara Harsha, a GHSA executive director. “Clearly, more studies need to be done addressing both the scope of the problem and how to effectively address it.”
TomTom has announced that its HD Traffic service, originally only available on the Go 2535 M LIVE personal navigation device, is now available for all drivers using its LIVE products. HD Traffic updates drivers every two minutes with road conditions, and it gathers its data from a variety of sources — including from other driers on the road with HD Traffic — to steer you towards the fastest possible route. The service is available on the GO 740 LIVE, XL 340 LIVE, and GO 2535 M LIVE, and TomTom dropped the subscription price from $119.95 per year to $59.95 per year. Hit the jump for the full release. More →
On the same day Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit finally found its way to store shelves, EA has officially announced the next big driving simulator in the storied franchise — Need for Speed: SHIFT 2 UNLEASHED. Accompanied by a trailer that does little beyond shrouding the upcoming title in mystery, SHIFT 2 will be the sequel to EA’s popular game, Need for Speed: SHIFT. “SHIFT 2 UNLEASHED is redefining immersive racing by blending the rush of tearing up the track at unbelievable speeds with the emotional experience of competitive battle,” Marcus Nilsson, the game’s producer, said in a statement. “We are also working closely with real-world performance drivers to ensure that SHIFT 2 UNLEASHED captures their experience and becomes the benchmark in authentic racing action.” SHIFT 2 UNLEASHED will launch some time in the spring next year, and will be available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. Hit the break for the game trailer. More →
If you’re an iPhone owner, you have to pay for your turn-by-turn GPS applications (at this point all the Android users are smiling ear-to-ear). If you’ve been holding off on purchasing an iPhone navigation application due to the cost, NAVIGON may have something for you. In honor of their one year App Store anniversary the company has temporarily cut the prices on their navigation offerings by fifty percent. The new pricing is as follows:
- MobileNavigator North America (includes maps for Canada & US): $39.99 instead of $79.99
- MobileNavigator USA: $24.99 instead of $49.99
- MobileNavigator Canada: $29.99 instead of $59.99
- MobileNavigator US MyRegion East, Central or West: $14.99 instead of $29.99, additional regions $11.99 instead of $14.99.
- Traffic Live: $12.99 instead of $24.99
- Panorama View 3D: $4.99 instead of $9.99
This pricing is available from August 12th to the 15th, and you can find all the goods in the App Store if interested. Enjoy! More →
You might have seen us post something on the new Garmin GPS solution for the OQO model 02. It’s a great concept and we’ve had the opportunity of reviewing it recently. If you buy the whole package, which is the car mount for the actual OQO and the Garmin USB GPS device, you’d have what we have. While it’s nice in theory, you can see from the above video what sort of trouble we ran into. If you totally want to skip the video, these are our issues with the package:
- To get an initial satellite lock took around 20 minutes. Open sky, clear and sunny day
- The mount for the OQO covers the speakers so you can’t hear didly squat from the GPS software
- When trying to enter an address, it actually made us write in the city, street name, and street number with the friggin’ pen! (Yes, as we later found out you can use the hardware keyboard, but there should totally be a huge on-screen keyboard)
- The suction cups that comes with the GPS unit totally suck. Actually, they don’t suck. They fall off everywhere
- This isn’t a fault of the GPS unit or the OQO really, but since the device has an active touch screen, you can’t use your fingers at all to tap different menu items. This is a royal pain in the ass since you either have to use the included tablet pen, or fiddle around with the trackstick mouse.
- This is quite possibly the hardest setup to use while driving. We know, you shouldn’t use it while driving, but let’s be honest, are you really pulling over to the shoulder to enter in an address?