T erry Brennen has been a car dealer for 24 years. He's the Sales Manager at Burdick Audi at Driver's Village in Cicero. On display in the showroom is the 2013 Audi Quattro Tiptronic.
O ne of the most attractive features on th e car is a computer screen that flips out of the dashboard with the push of a button. Brennan said he never thought he'd see the day when a car would have a computer in the dash.
" I wouldn't think anyone would have wanted it. How much more stuff could you have? Of course I didn't care about heated seats back then, now I couldn't live without them," says Brennen.
B esides acting as a navigation system , you can make hands free calls, find the nearest gas station complete with the price per gallon and access the internet to check your email and surf the web.
T he in dash computers can be operated by buttons on the steering wheel or touch screen. M any of the features will not operate while the car is in motion. Still Brennen understands the concern over distracted driving.
" I f you can interact with it more and if you have internet on it, I can see where that's going," says Brennen.
N ow a bill in the State Senate in Albany would "Prohibit the use of dashboard computers while operating a motor vehicle." If the bill becomes law, it would work in much the same way cell phone usage and texting are banned. Any driver caught interacting with his or her computer could be subject of a traffic ticket and $150.00 fine. The bill makes exceptions for bluetooth and navigation systems.
S enator Carl Marcellino wrote this into his legislation.
" I n an effort to bring the personal computer to your vehicle... dashboard computers are comi ng to a car near you. N o one wants to get in the way of technology but we must take steps to prevent these types of devi c es from being accessed. T his legislation will ensure that a driver will be watching the road and not surfing the web," says Marcellino.
I n 2011 , a ccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver. Another 387,000 were injured.
Dewitt Police Chief Gene Conway takes distracted driving so seriously, h e has instructed his officers not to use cell phones while driving, even though the law makes an exception for law enforcement. Conway supports the idea of restricting the use of dashboard computers.
" Anytime that you're looking away from the road in front of you or not looking in the mirrors to me is a huge problem," says Conway.