TV to go

Inattentive driving; that's what it's called. If you are involved in an accident, and the police determine you weren't paying proper attention, you get a ticket for inattentive driving.

Have you ever been guilty? Come on! Who among us hasn't talked on a mobile phone, drank coffee or a Coke, or glanced at a newspaper, map or even a book while blissfully blazing along the byways? That's not my definition of inattentative driving. Inattentive driving is putting on your panty hose and make-up while whipping along at 60km/hr on the expressway, which by the way has happened!

Fortunately, today's automobiles are bursting with automated technology — all designed to support multitasking while tooling down the road. Cars have power steering and brakes, automatic transmissions, digital radio with steering wheel or even voice controls, automatic speed controls, and most important, cup holders. All these features are designed to make the hours spent in the car more pleasurable.

Now the ultimate addition to ease those long commutes has arrived — in-car television, specifically designed for DVB-T. Visteon has announced the DigiTune DB M1 receiver for cars. Its promotional announcement says, “Now, travel won't prevent you from watching such important events as the European football championships or the Olympic games.” The cost? €1300 including TV receiver and dual antennas. Installation is extra, so now we're looking at about €1500. Not bad for a cool toy like this.

The company's press release talks of mounting the TV monitor system on the roofliner in the rear of the car, “out of site for the driver,” or to “switch off when the car starts so as not to distract the driver.”

Get real! That's not going to happen. Besides, several luxury cars already provide electronic maps in the dashboard. Just how hard do you suppose it is to connect video to those displays?

In any case, drivers will find ways around these rules. One guy in New York was pulled over after a passerby complained about seeing pornographic videos on his TV screen. It turns out he had seven TV screens in his vehicle.

All this sounds great to me, but consider the havoc that may develop when key sport matches are being played? It's Germany against England in the European Cup finals. The score: Germany 2, England 2, with one minute to go. Thousands of cars around the world slow to a crawl as drivers intensely follow the action on their in-car TV sets. Then, with five seconds left, England scores. The game is over, and England wins by one. It's pandemonium on the highways. Tens of thousands of drivers — half happy, half angry — are behind the wheel of a 4500kg killing machine. Oh, the humanity of it!

Okay, maybe it won't be that bad. But, picture that half of the dummies you now face on your drive to work are already multitasking, just like you — drinking their favorite beverage, gulping down a roll or scone, glancing at the morning newspaper. Now those idiots are also going to be watching TV!

Isn't technology wonderful?