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Do we really need to be able to shop while we drive, GM? |

Do we really need to be able to shop while we drive, GM?

The rapidly approaching autonomous future will likely result in people being trapped in their cars and made to watch autoplay ads for skillets with miraculous non-stick surfaces, insurance so inexpensive it doesn’t do anything and prescription drug settlements. But before that shining autonomous future arrives you can still do some shopping on the go, while driving a car. And that can be a problem.


A new GM in-car app called Marketplace that allows drivers to shop and place orders from several major brands including Priceline.com, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and TGI Friday’s has drawn criticism from at least one consumer safety group, Bloomberg reports. National Safety Council President Deborah Hersman indicated the app can contribute to distracted driving, which is already a factor in at least a quarter of all car crashes in the U.S.

“There’s nothing about this that’s safe,” Hersman told Bloomberg. “If this is why they want Wi-Fi in the car, we’re going to see fatality numbers go up even higher than they are now.”

GM’s counterargument is that the app is safer than trying to order the same items via a smartphone, and is designed to be simpler to use than a phone. GM spokesman Vijay Iyer told Bloomberg that the app is designed to allow users to order items with just three or four steps, which is typically fewer than using a phone to do the same.


Jaguar Shell app

Of course, this argument ignores the concept of not shopping at all while driving. While the app may provide a safer way of booking a hotel room, there is still the option of using a hands-free in-car phone to just call the hotel, which is what people used to do in the early 2000s. Also, if a driver feels the need to use an in-car app to place an order to Dunkin Donuts before he or she gets there, or reserve a table at TGI Friday’s, that driver is leading a life that is far too optimized.

Nevertheless, GM plans to launch the app in 2017 and 2018 model year vehicles that feature Wi-Fi hotspots, and other automakers and app developers are not far behind. If there’s any hope around in-car multitasking, it is that voice-controlled personal assistant systems are getting better, and will eventually be able to interact with you simply by talking to you.

In the meantime, if you need a coffee from Dunkin Donuts just drive to Dunkin Donuts and use the drive-thru window (where available).


Jay Ramey


Jay Ramey

– Jay Ramey is an Associate Editor with Autoweek, and has been with the magazine since 2013. Jay also likes to kayak and bike.

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