Intentional Distracted Driving: In-Vehicle Ads Are a Terrible Idea

Intentional Distracted Driving: In-Vehicle Ads Are a Terrible IdeaAs law enforcement agencies, governments, and activist groups work to reduce distracted driving, Ford has decided to go a different route and introduce technology that shows ads inside vehicles in an effort to help advertisers reach more customers and convert more sales.

It’s bad enough that drivers are bombarded with billboards, flashing signs, and lawn signs while going for a leisurely drive or traveling to and from work. Now, this new technology will scan ads and show them on the dashboard of Ford vehicles for the driver and front-seat passenger to view. Will in-vehicle ads have an impact on distracted driving, causing more accidents?

Street sign sensing technology

Street sign sensing technology has become very common in vehicles across many different automaker brands. This technology helps read speed limit signs and other street signs, making it safer for drivers to maintain their speed and understand driving restrictions. This is especially important for drivers operating on unfamiliar roads.

Now, Ford wants to up the ante by installing technology in vehicles that read billboards and other signs and then display ads on the in-vehicle dashboard for the driver and passengers to watch.

Ford has applied for the patent for its tech

Ford has already applied for the patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. According to the patent, Ford is looking to create:

An example method for generating a billboard interface for a vehicle display [that] includes obtaining, via a camera, an image of a billboard and identifying, via a processor, a segment of the image. The example method also includes determining an event associated with the segment and generating a billboard interface to include a hyperlink of the segment that initiates the event. The example method also includes communicating, via a communication module, the billboard interface to a vehicle display for presentation to a user.

Another distraction added to your vehicle

As automakers have developed new technology for vehicles, distractions have become more frequent. First, there was the advent of the radio. Then, a tape deck was added. A CD player came next. GPS systems weren’t far behind. Then, satellite radio.

Now, vehicle dashboards can integrate with mobile devices so you can listen to emails and text messages being read by the vehicle’s inner voice. These dashboards can do quite a bit, all of which can be a major distraction to drivers of any age and experience.

This new technology, if it comes to fruition, will only be yet another distraction in the vehicles of people who are already heavily distracted while driving. Video ads appearing on in-vehicle dashboards will not help indecisive drivers operate in a safer manner. If anything, they are likely to be more distracting, especially if there is accompanying audio with the video. Can you imagine what it would be like to have your GPS paused because of a fast food ad, or to suddenly see flashing lights associated with a visual display where before there was only the name of a radio station?

Distracted driving killed nearly 3,000 people in accidents across the country in 2018, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and injured more than 40,000. Oklahoma is already the 8th most dangerous state in the country for driving; how much worse will it be when we can’t avoid the ads in our own car?

Can drivers opt out of ads?

Will drivers be forced to opt out of ads if they don’t want to be force-fed these videos while driving? It’s possible that vehicle owners might have to pay for an ad-free experience while driving their own personal vehicles. It’s easy now to ignore billboards and other roadside signs simply by not looking at them as you pass. If Ford’s patent goes through and the company moves forward with the idea, video ads will soon be commonplace inside your vehicle.

Ford didn’t have much to say about the patent, telling Motor1 “Patents on new inventions [are submitted] as a normal course of business, but they aren’t necessarily an indication of new business or product plans.”

Common distractions while driving

According to research conducted by multiple insurance agencies and activist groups, the leading distraction for drivers in accidents is being “lost in thought.” This is also referred to as being generally distracted. Drivers involved in these accidents tend to daydream, have their minds wander, and generally think about tasks other than driving.

The third-leading cause of distraction includes paying attention to things going on outside the vehicle, such as:

  • Rubbernecking (slowing down to stare at an accident or incident on the side of the road)
  • Paying attention to pedestrians
  • Reading billboards or other street signs
  • Staring off into space
  • Paying too close attention to other vehicles

This category of distraction is more deadly than having a passenger in the vehicle with you. Think about that for a minute. Reading a billboard or looking at something outside of your vehicle has a higher likelihood of leading to a serious accident than being distracted by a passenger or pet in your vehicle. What happens when that billboard makes it into your car?

Drivers face enough risks when they’re traveling on the roads. You cannot control another driver’s actions, or how those drivers will react if they are startled by an in-car ad. Ford may have found a new way to make more money, but it poses an additional risk to drivers.

If you or a loved one suffers an injury in a distracted driving accident, you deserve legal representation from Oklahoma City car accident attorneys who are compassionate, experienced, and knowledgeable about your situation. Call the team at Cunningham & Mears at (405) 232-1212, or complete the contact form to schedule a free consultation today.