I just saw the C/NET article (Fed driver distraction guidelines make navigation unusable) by Wayne Cunningham reviewing the recently issued National Highway Transportation Safety Agency guidelines for automakers to minimize distraction for in-vehicle electronics.

Not to worry… “NHTSA says you can keep your GPS — as long as it’s completely useless” (Techdirt article).   Me thinks their new acronym should be NHTSBA (Nat’l Highway Transporation Safety & Buffoon Agency).

Now… I don’t have a GPS, auto or handheld (altho’ I’ll probably buy one now before the NHTSBA renders them useless).  I grew up with maps and still use them.  Most folks probably don’t even remember the Rand McNally Road Atlas that nearly everyone who traveled cross-country had.  When is the last time you saw maps for sale in a gas station?

I was a navigator in the Navy (NFO) and we relied exclusively on maps.  Even when GPS became more prevalent, training still included extensive map training, as the Navy used to follow the axiom: “The more you rely on technology, the more likely that technology will fail when you need it most”  (in other words, the reliability of technology tends to be inversely proportional to just how badly you need it to complete your mission).  Yes, I know… yet another version of Murphy’s Law.

But I digress… back to NHTSBA’s recommendations.  Why not cut to the chase and make the leap to new technology?  Like Cadillac’s new “Driver Awareness & Driver Assist” package, in which the seat vibrates to alert the driver to roadway threats.   That technology could be modified to vibrate the hell out of your ass whenever it determines that you’re distracted (or falling asleep).  Because some people – of either sex – might find a vibrating seat just a little “TOO” enjoyable, why not go with electrodes (or a butt probe) that shocks the shit out of you when the system somehow determines that you’re either distracted or falling asleep at the wheel?

Better yet… isn’t it about time that the “Heads-Up Display” technology prevalent in military aircraft finally became mainstream in the automobile?  With GPS overlays of driving instructions to a desired location displayed right on your windshield?   Of course, prepare yourself for complete failure of this technology when you absolutely NEED to get to your destination for any of the following possible reasons:

  • Trying to find the closest hospital to deliver an emergency victim
  • Trying to find the closest bathroom
  • Late for job interview
  • Late for wedding
  • Nearest Starbucks
  • Nearest Bar or Medical Marijuana Dispensary
  • Finding your way back home…
  • etc., etc., etc.

Ain’t technology just wonderful???

P.S.  As a backup for technology failure, don’t to forget to look up your destination on Google Maps & print it out BEFORE you jump in the car! (and, uh, don’t forget to bring it with you)