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Could this new in-vehicle app increase distracted driving?

Distracted driving has become an increasingly problematic offense in recent years, as increased cell phone use while driving has caused a surge in driving accidents. In fact, a recent report by the U.S. Department of Transportation shows a general decline in incidents of drunk driving, compared to a 650% increase in distracted driving accidents over a seven-year period.

Earlier this year, Texas introduced a new law that bans certain types of activity on any wireless communication device while driving. Most people understand this law to ban texting while driving, but it also prohibits reading, writing or sending any type of electronic message while driving.

Outside of electronic messaging, the other functionalities available in portable devices offer myriad other opportunities to cause distraction while driving. A new in-vehicle app, created by General Motors, could further increase a driver’s level of distraction.

The app, called “Marketplace”, will be offered in all 2017 and 2018 models of GM vehicles. With it, users can engage in online shopping while driving. They can book a hotel, buy gas or order dinner all from your car. What makes this app unique, according to a GM vice president in a recent interview, is that the app is “designed to work while people are driving.” An estimated 4 million vehicles are expected to have this app installed by 2019.

The introduction of this app raises questions about driver safety. Could in-car shopping lead to increased instances of distracted driving? Could this innovation force Texas lawmakers to consider expanding the bans on distracted driving to include other types of activity besides texting?

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