National Safety Council Slams GM Marketplace

'There’s nothing about this that’s safe,' says President Deborah Hersman.

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Distracted driving is a major concern these days, and law enforcement is cracking down hard. General Motors' Marketplace, which will integrate many shopping functions previously reserved for smartphones into your car's infotainment system, will make this problem worse rather than better, says the National Safety Council.

"There’s nothing about this that’s safe," National Safety Council President Deborah Hersman told Automotive News. "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." There were more than 37,000 auto fatalities last year, up 5.6 percent from the year before. Distracted driving was a factor in a quarter of all vehicle crashes.

General Motors counters that Marketplace provides a safer alternative to using your phone for such transactions. Only three to four steps are necessary to complete any transaction. The user interface is designed to be simpler and easier to use than a phone. But this ease of use may lead to people getting distracted while making transactions through Marketplace that they might not have otherwise made through their phone, resorting to the ancient method of waiting to arrive at their destinations instead.

"With motor vehicle deaths rising, the last thing we want to do is offer drivers another way to be distracted," Hersman told The Drive. "Hands-free systems are not safer, the research is clear on this. We need to find ways to protect drivers, not expose them to more unnecessary risk. Just because these features are available in your car does not mean they are safe to use when you’re on the road.”

National Safety Council

The NSC also provided this infographic explaining why multitasking while driving doesn't work as well as most people think, even using the hands-free systems common in today's cars and sometimes required by law.