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Ray LaHood could learn a thing or two from Parker’s failures. For starters, American drivers are no more willing to part with their in-car technology in 2012 than they were in 1930. Banning cell phones has only moved their usage from steering wheel level—where one could divide his attention between the phone screen and the road—to the driver’s lap, increasing the distance one’s eyes must travel from text message to tarmac. The other lesson, of course, is that technology is here to help. GPS simplifies the driving experience by eliminating the need for solo automobilists to reference paper maps while driving. And those textureless (and therefore “distracting”) touch-screen buttons that were so pervasive in 2011 baseline models? Come next year, or maybe the year after, their functions will likely be handled by voice activation technology (or maybe, the cars will drive themselves).
Until then, American drivers will continue to adjust to in-car features, just as they learned, almost a century ago, to hunt down Amos 'n' Andy on the AM dial while chugging along in their Studebaker Phaeton's and Ford Model As—without crashing.