Sorry regulators, car apps are coming whether you like them or not

By Oliver Smith 8 March 2017

There are some big distractions coming to the cars of tomorrow.

Jaguar is in hot water this morning, after an advert for its new Jaguar XE boasted how drivers could be more productive with its suite of in-car apps.

The ad, which was printed in The Guardian with the heading ‘drive time is no longer downtime’, described how XE drivers could use the car’s smart technology to check their calendars and use other apps while on the move.

Jaguar may be chuffed with its in-car tech – which includes a 10-inch touch screen for the driver that can act as a digital TV – but the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) was less than impressed.

“We considered readers would interpret this [advert] to mean that drivers could now perform various other tasks whilst driving… Therefore, we concluded that the advertorial was irresponsible because it was likely to encourage unsafe driving practices,” said the ASA in its ruling to ban the advert.

Indeed The Highway Code states that drivers can be stopped by the police if they’re “not in full control of a vehicle because of being distracted” which is a motoring offence.

And that’s a problem, because there are some pretty big distractions coming to cars.

Nissan's Qashqai has Facebook and Twitter apps.

Digital driving

Your next car will probably have apps, digital services and a huge colourful touch screen.

Indeed even today Tesla’s Model S boasts a 17-inch touch screen bristling with apps and services, while Nissan’s popular Qashqai SUV has Facebook and Twitter apps built into its driver’s touch screen so you can “keep up to date with the latest news from your social networks”.

These car makers also promote the fact that their vehicles have hands-free and voice control options, but there’s no doubt that these huge touch screens and dozens of apps are mighty distracting.

In the same way that sat navs caused huge controversy in the 2000s when they started popping onto driver’s dashboards, just begging to be stared at, so to are touch screens and apps leading to a similar scandal today.

We’re all for technology that makes driving safer, faster and more pleasant, but when that technology includes a Facebook app and the ability to read your email when you should be driving, surely things have gone too far.

Keep your eyes on the road.