Connected Cars and Distracted Driving

The internet of things and connected cars made a splash in Dallas area media last week. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that AT&T is headquartered here! Connected cars are here and they are growing rapidly, even without a “killer app.” While AT&T has over 100 million customers using wireless, video, broadband, and even land lines services, the big growth potential appears to be connected cars.

For the second quarter in a row, AT&T has added 1 million connected vehicles, bringing their total up to 6 million. They project to have 10 million connected vehicles within 2 years. AT&T serves as the wireless network for about half of all connected cars on the road today. There are 9 automakers who’ve partnered with AT&T to provide wireless services through their vehicles including Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Subaru, Tesla, and Volvo.

Having a connected car simply means the car is connected to the internet via AT&T or another provider’s wireless network. The benefits of a connected car include real-time driver alerts for traffic on their dashboard, alerts about impending weather and construction, as well as, recommendations for restaurants and shopping. In addition, the ability to automatically download software updates to vehicle computers, provide service reminders, and avoid collisions are also cited as benefits of this technology. They even provide a more reliable hotspot for passenger’s tablets and computers so they can work or game during the morning commute or vacation drive.

All of this sounds wonderful, wonderfully distracting for the person whose primary job behind the wheel is to safely drive themselves and their passengers to a pre-determined destination. What’s ironic is AT&T started a program in 2010 called It Can Wait ( where people can take the pledge to not text and drive. Over 7 million people already have taken that pledge. Are people who use AT&T’s connected vehicle technology reneging on their It Can Wait pledge?

There is more to driving distracted than texting while driving. Other activities include talking on the phone, reading a map (either on your phone or dash board), adjusting your stereo, or browsing (social media, text messages, internet, etc.). Researchers at the University of Utah have found that hands free technology doesn’t mean risk-free (see

Distractions can last for up to 27 seconds after an activity has taken place (conversation, dictating a text message, etc.). During the time, the driver may see what’s going on around them, but it may not register in the brain, meaning the vehicle can travel up to 3 football fields at highway speeds, before their brain registers what’s going on around them. It is no wonder, distracted driving is a contributing factor in roughly 10% of traffic related deaths.

I believe the internet of things, including connected cars, is here to stay and will only grow over the coming years. In the long run, as cars and trucks become fully autonomous, all people within a vehicle will be able to catch their morning news show, finish a report, check social media, review email, or watch the latest iteration of Terminator movie, and that they’ll be able to do this safely. Until that day, I can only hope that this level of connectivity within the car doesn’t lead to an increase in distracted driving related traffic fatalities.

What do you think? Share your thoughts, suggestions, questions, and experiences with me on my Google +, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!

Evie Wise
Evie Wise


Evie Wise
Evie Wise

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