Driven to distraction: New Mercedes technology allows driver to update Facebook at the wheel

Published: 23/02/2012

Luxury car manufacturer, Mercedes-Benz, is facing a barrage of criticism from road safety campaigners after unveiling its new in-car internet system at the Consumer Electronics in Las Vegas last month.

The new gadget, which is part of the sat-nav system in upcoming SL class models, allows drivers to access a range of websites from their car including the ability to update their Facebook location whilst driving.

Other features include access to Google Street View, local business directory and messaging service, Yelp as well as connection to pre-programmed sites showing latest news headlines and stock prices. Drivers, however, can only access the majority of these sites when parked.

Mercedes has defended its new system, which it has heralded as “a truly networked vehicle that is always online”, claiming it is “no more distracting than tuning your radio”.

Drivers can just press a button and their location will automatically be updated via Facebook. Such a device could help drivers communicate their estimated time of arrival for a meeting or business lunch and potentially dissuade a driver from making a phone call to disclosure this information.

However road safety campaigners are not convinced and fearful of the impact this technological advance could have on road traffic accidents. Alan Kennedy is the Road Safety GB Chairman:

“It is inconceivable that a major manufacturer such as Mercedes would even contemplate allowing such a system to be fitted to their vehicles.

“The biggest and most obvious worry is, of course, distraction. No matter how driver friendly the system is, I fear we will see an increase in the number of Mercedes cars wrapped around trees, pedestrians and cyclists.

“This is something the road safety profession must resist.”¹

According to the Department of Transport Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2010 Annual Report, there were 2972 accidents caused by a distraction in the vehicle. Sixty of these were fatal.

¹Mail Online (Feb 2012)

Content correct at time of publication

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