I learned recently when checking out a new Tesla that its fully equipped dashboard includes a web browser. Since I had the chance, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to load the Workforce Institute site on the car’s dash. At the same time, I ask myself if this capability is such a good idea.
Now I’m all for electric cars – I drive a Chevy Volt – but this feature seems like it would be a monumental distraction. One recent study says that 54% of the content Tesla drivers are viewing is news sites; i.e. not how to get from point A to point B. The article in which this study is referenced goes on to say that the law in most states hasn’t caught up to the Tesla capabilities. Some states have distracted driving laws now that prohibit hand held cellphones, texting, and/or TV screens or the like for the driver. The Tesla browser falls in a grey area in that it’s similar to a GPS system (allowed everywhere, I think), but certainly just as distracting as texting.
I love new technology – generally the more the better for me. But as we approach these new frontiers of capability, they need to be assessed for their risks as well as their benefits. Are Tesla drivers browsing while driving? Maybe you should assume they are and give them a wide berth for now, just in case they’re making purchases on Amazon instead of focusing on the road.