Car Wink

What’s a Car Wink? You may be thinking it’s that cheeky glance and a wink at another driver whom you like the look of? You may call indicators “winkers” and are thinking of that? Maybe you have no idea. Let me help. Whilst it could be either of the above it is, in this context, neither.

Car Wink is a device that features on the KickStarter website and is seeking backers. As I type, this project has 679 supporters pledging $102,255. Take a look here;

Now you’ve had a look what do you think?

I’m quite clear. This is a bad idea. Driving is a complex blend of hand, eye, and mind coordination. To do it properly and ensure the safety of yourself and others it requires your full attention all the time.

Our roads are already littered with drivers using their mobile phones for countless purposes. Calls, texts, email, WhatsApp messages, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, live streaming and much much more. People are dying on our roads because of these distractions. A study by TRL in 2002 concluded that hands free calls increased reaction times more than drivers at the drink drive limit.

Based on this information it is quite apparent that some offences we know and readily accept to be dangerous (drink drive) are actually less impactful than hand held phone use and even, the legally endorsed, hands free use.

The legislation, as it stands, has actually encouraged distracted driving. Is it any surprise that road deaths are increasing? Not just nationally but internationally?

The problem we have is that technology and the next new thing is seductive. The next new iPhone leads to countless people dashing to the store on the launch date. When Pokémon Go was launched everybody wanted it. Even those who had never played it before. Cars are being kitted out with more and more technology. It’s sold to us on the basis it “adds” to the driving experience or makes life simpler so we can concentrate on driving. The “candy” is irresistible to us. The reality is that many infotainment systems are marketed to us as such when what they actually do is simply increase unnecessary distractions in the car.

Distracted driving is not new. However, technology is increasingly adding burdens into the driving environment that are totally unnecessary. Phones, infotainment systems and connectivity to the internet. Distractions that take eyes from the road. Distractions that can lead to death or serious injury.

Nationally the UK police tackle the #Fatal4. Drink drive/drug drive, seatbelts, speed, and mobile phone use. Mobile phone use in the traditional sense is easy to detect. Other uses and voice commands are distractions that are much harder to detect in the traditional ways. Is that a Sat Nav you can see in the car ahead or are they live streaming?

So here we have the Car Wink. A device that allows you to communicate with the driver behind you by the use of emojis. It looks novel. It looks unique and it looks fun. Furthermore this group are marketing it as a great way to reduce road rage, promote driver courtesy and even, if you’ve watched the video to the end, a chance to initiate new encounters and maybe even relationships from. What an absolute nirvana this will engender! Utter, utter poppycock!

To operate the driver adds another cognitive load into the already busy arena of driving by utilising voice commands. The manufacturer will, of course, claim this therefore makes it safe – (because your hands are on the wheel) and glibly falls into the trap the legislation has created. Voice dictation commands then determine what emoji you want to display to the driver behind. Instead of, perhaps, just raising your hand and acknowledging the other drivers courtesy.

Ask yourself a question. Is this absolutely necessary? Put to one side the geeky, must have, want to have desire (if it does that for you) and be realistic. Do you “need” it? The answer, if you have any common sense at all, will be a resounding no.

The Car Wink is just another distraction. Another burden that will take drivers attention away from their primary function. Driving the car!

This is a gadget that marketers will make you think you need yet in reality it is a device you should be avoiding at all costs. The problem we have is that the manufacturer believes it to be a great idea and 697 other people think so too. This only goes to prove one thing. Distracted driving is going to remain a huge issue until people see the danger for themselves and the campaigning about the risks must continue.

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