Why Apple’s CarPlay, Siri make AAA nervous

“Apple this week unwrapped a new system that would make it easier to perform tasks while driving with the help of an iPhone and Siri, an important step in the industrywide push to build smarter cars,” Benjamin Pimentel reports for MarketWatch. “But the rise of more technology-enabled automobiles, including those equipped with voice-control systems like Apple’s Siri, is also making some consumer advocates, led by the American Automobile Association, nervous.”

“The federation of motor clubs put out a report in June warning of ‘a plethora of hands-free-in-vehicle communications’ that serve as dangerous distractions,” Pimentel reports. “AAA is in the process of updating that study, and the organization is expected to release a new version this summer, according to Jake Nelson, the association’s director for traffic safety advocacy and research. ‘We are very supportive of the introduction of technologies in the car to enhance convenience for consumers,’ he told MarketWatch. ‘But we are also very concerned about the balance between convenience and safety.'”

“CarPlay, Apple stressed, is meant to let drivers ‘use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction.’ But advocates worry that such claims could give drivers a false sense of safety,” Pimentel reports. “AAA is pushing for more studies and guidelines on the use of smart technologies in cars. ‘There are some tasks that a driver should not be allowed to engage in while the car is driving,’ he said… ‘Drivers should not be allowed to use these technologies to read and respond to emails or interact with social media.’ Nelson said advocates are even looking into issues related to voice-control technologies, such as Siri. He cited questions on whether a ‘synthetic or a computer-generated voice’ may not be as safe as those that sound like a natural human voice.”

Pimentel reports, “AAA’s claims have been criticized by the Consumer Electronics Association, which argued in a June 2013 statement that the organization’s report ‘suffers from a number of methodology flaws, and, as a result, its broad conclusions about voice-to-text technology should be questioned.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Overwrought, FUD-ish “concerns” based on flawed studies aren’t going to stop the arrival of the future.

AAA’s probably most worried about Apple supplying Maps, turn-by-turn directions, simple voice access to roadside assistance, and more in millions upon millions of vehicles without the need for an annual AAA subscription.

Related articles:
Despite no one yet having used it, Apple’s CarPlay draws safety criticism from some – March 5, 2014
No, Apple’s CarPlay does not ‘run BlackBerry’s QNX’ – March 5, 2014
Apple CarPlay uses BlackBerry’s QNX platform – March 4, 2014
Hands on with Apple’s CarPlay in a Ferrari FF; plus how Apple will push new third-party apps to the system – March 4, 2014
Apple’s ‘CarPlay’ set to take automotive industry by storm – March 4, 2014
Apple’s new CarPlay system will turn tens of millions of cars into iPhone accessories – March 3, 2014
Apple rolls out CarPlay giving drivers a smarter, safer and more fun way to use iPhone in the car – March 3, 2014
Apple to launch iOS in the Car with Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo next week; more makers coming this year – February 28, 2014
Honda’s ‘HondaLink’ offers partial iPhone-vehicle integration ahead of Apple’s ‘iOS in the Car’ – January 24, 2014
Apple patent application reveals in-vehicle holistic ID for ‘iOS in the Car’ – December 12, 2013
ABI Research: Apple’s ‘iOS in the Car’ to be No. 1 in-vehicle system by 2018 – November 1, 2013
General Motors adds Apple’s Siri Eyes Free to more vehicles following ‘remarkable’ customer response – October 16, 2013
Hidden contacts revealed within Apple’s iOS in the Car – August 8, 2013
Automakers integrate Apple’s iOS in the Car to minimize driver distraction, increase customer satisfaction – July 30, 2013
Why Apple is planning aggressive 2014 launch for ‘iOS in the Car’ – July 26, 2013
Why Tim Cook described Apple’s iOS in the Car strategy as ‘very important’ – July 25, 2013
Apple has its eyes on automakers with ‘iOS in the Car’ – July 5, 2013
Ford plummets to 27th in J.D. Power vehicle quality rankings on Microsoft-developed ‘MyFord Touch’ woes – June 20, 2012


  1. “He cited questions on whether a ‘synthetic or a computer-generated voice’ may not be as safe as those that sound like a natural human voice.””

    Who is asking these questions? He is. Case closed.

  2. MDN Take: Bingo!

    AAA has a vehicle service plan. SIRI can’t change a flat or jump start your car. But she can call your auto insurance company which probably offers the same service for a fraction of what AAA charges.

    AAA offers business discounts. SIRI doesn’t do that… yet. If Apple rally moves into mobile payments, what is to prevent them from helping merchants offer discounts to those who use their system.

    As far as a revenue stream, what would AAA have left?

    1. They’d still have their overpriced “stores” where they’ll sell you luggage for twice what you can get it for elsewhere, an oil change for twice what it’s worth, and they’ll tell you that you need work done to your car that isn’t needed.

      One of their “mechanics” told my fiancee that she had a blown head gasket on her car, and needed over $3K of repair…that was 6 years ago…car’s still running fine, and she got a REAL mechanic to fix the *actual* problem for under $100.

    2. AAA is still handing out maps with very small type that is a REAL distraction when driving.
      Apple maps just TELL me where to go . . . without taking my eyes off the road in front of me to look for address numbers or poorly lit street signs.

  3. I don’t know if AAA has an agenda or not but they do make a good point. I don’t want drivers listening and responding to emails/text messages while driving. I want them to be concentrating on the road.

    1. How about all of the passengers in the car? Why are we assuming that it’s only the driver that wants access to these features? Why can I not control this or access all of this as a passenger??
      Remember this every time we talk about this (or similar) topic: should I not be allowed to talk/text/GPS as the passenger in the car??!!!

      1. Or even more to the point, what’s more distracting about responding to e-mails/text messages that talking TO THE passengers in your car? Or the kids acting up in the back seat, for that matter? The only way for the driver not to be potentially distracted is to have no passengers, no radio, no navigation system, no adjustable A/C or heat, etc.; just a driver and a steering wheel. 98% of these “concerns” are hand-wringing or hidden agendas, if you ask me.

      2. NSN – you miss the point. As a passenger, you can do all those things just with your iPhone or iPad. Systems such as CarPlay are designed to let the driver talk/text/email etc. hands free while driving.

        1. Actually, no, I don’t miss the point…
          It is much easier to see maps, songs, etc. on a 7-10″ screen than your 4″ screen.

          This is what you do in the car – you tuck your phone in the center console and control everything on the big screen!! Trust me, we do it now.

    2. For most of my friends and co-workers, I wouldn’t worry about it. For most people reading this, I wouldn’t worry about it.

      However, for the average person and below-average person (intelligence-wise), they shouldn’t be allowed to do anything but drive the damn vehicle.

      I’m not trying to be mean, but most of the people on this planet can’t seem to figure out that the vehicle is supposed to go *between* the white lines of the parking space, so I certainly don’t want them trying to multi-task while operating their 4000-pound weapon of destruction.

      Having said that, though, they’re going to read emails and respond to text messages, anyway (it’s illegal to do so while driving in my state, and I still see it multiple times a day). So with that, I’d rather have them doing it via Siri than by trying to type-and-drive.

    3. That horse has already left the gate, dude. That 2003 Saturn going 5 MPH under the speed limit? 90% certainty someone under the age of 20 is texting their BFF.

      Trust me when I say you’d rather have Apple designing a solution for electronically-assisted road idiocy than anyone else.

      1. What an absolutely stupid reply.

        Might as well have said “So what if you almost killed three people, dude…you’d have probably f***ed up that Prius eventually, anyway!!”

        With that logic, you’re going to die anyway, so why not go ahead and do it now, without taking a chance that you mess up someone’s bumper while doing it later.

        What a moron.

        1. Obviously Paul feels that the critical factor in his accident was when he was using his iPhone. Did he leave out details? YES! Because to him there was no point in adding any more!

          He does not say whether he supports tech like CarPlay, or feels whether it would have prevented his accident. These are details that would be relevant to the thread. But instead you chose to seize upon whether in fact his distraction was the cause of the accident because he didn’t include enough DETAIL?

          Your post, though could have been interpreted many different ways. Do you believe using a phone while driving isn’t distracting? Were you making a joke? Are you implying that people will get into accidents regardless? Are you suggesting that Paul is a bad driver and would have totalled his car? Do you know Paul, and are continuing a personal joke on a public forum?

          Instead of seeking clarification related to the thread, you posted a hypothetical question. I will provide you with the answer based simply off of the literal and implied meaning of Paul’s post.

          Paul says he probably wouldn’t have totalled his car. And I will take him at his word because I have no reason not to.

          Whose post was meaningless?

        2. With all the paid Samsung trolls around, I don’t take anything at face value. Do you believe everything you read on the internet?

          You believe you understood what he implied and yet failed to see what I implied. Are you being a bit selective there?

          Yes, I know which posts are meaningless.

  4. Did they bring up those questions when Ford showed the SYNC from microsoft? or when android devices started jumping into cars?
    People will always keep texting and using their entertainment systems in their cars no matter what the AAA says. Apple is just doing those task less distracted, AAA should be thanking apple if they are really concern about safety, but looks like they’re not.

    1. This is a very good point, I bought a Ford Explorer with the SYNC and I’ve never heard anyone raise safety issues over it. It does have the same voice as SIRI and she does give you a warning about using it and being distracted.

      On a slightly different note, the SYNC in my Ford is a worthless pile of crap, my wife has in two years brought her Explorer to the dealer over 6 times trying to get them to fix the damn thing because sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes it does things you don’t tell it to do. Like having the door ajar beeping alarm go off while your driving and all doors are shut and I could list whole lot of other problems with the thing but I’ll stop here.

  5. Have to agree with MDN’s take… many of AAA’s offerings that add value have and are being whittled away be technology. Further, their towing services are diminished by the auto manufacturers. In essence, AAA is struggling to find new revenue streams that differentiate their business past auto insurance and travel agency.

  6. AAA maps are such a driving distraction – almost as bad as digging through a bag of 8 track tapes to find your favorite disco hit and slap it in the player. Almost as bad as having to let out the choke and get the gas mix exactly right to reverse. Yeah CarPlay is way more distracting than all those analog things they used to have in the car.

    1. Ah! the choke! I think I’m pretty rare being a 33 year old who drove a car with a choke. I think my brothers 1986 civic crx had to be one of the last cars mass produced that had a manual choke. What a fun car to drive!

      I seem to recall a post one time suggesting that radios were put into cars specifically to make them safer. It gave the driver something to focus on rather than obsessing about life’s many distractions. And help keep them awake.

      I think you made a very important point.

  7. “Overwrought, FUD-ish “concerns” based on flawed studies aren’t going to stop the arrival of the future.”

    What an immature thing to propose. Next you’ll be advocating that the FDA stop requiring pharma to test their drugs before selling them en masse. Health affects? Studies? Why bother even thinking about unintended consequences, WE’RE OFF TO THE FUTURE!!!

    MDN, your pipe dream of Apple being an exceptional perfect corporation that needs no oversight is TOTALLY wrong. It is HIGHLY valuable to test and set standards for the equipment that goes onto a 2000+ kilo land cruise missile. Just because idiots all over the world flaunt laws against the use of hand-held cell phones in cars doesn’t mean that carmakers should get a free pass installing any video infotainment touchscreen crap on the dashboard — no matter whose brand name is on it.

      1. I think the AAA would be best advised to work for standards and advice about making the technology and its use as safe as possible and in particular safer than present distractions doing relatively the same thing. No point trying to stop the inevitable but making it safer is very possible and a perfect role for a supposedly neutral body.

  8. ‘There are some tasks that a driver should not be allowed to engage in while the car is driving,’ he said… ‘Drivers should not be allowed to use these technologies to read and respond to emails or interact with social media.’

    And so all fast food drive-in windows should be closed, because we all absolutely drive away from there with food/drink in hand, or at least nearby enough to be a distraction. And passengers? Forget it. You could interact with them, too. That can’t be allowed. Only single person vehicles should be allowed on the market. Even busses are out of the question. Have kids? Sorry, you’re stuck with them at home or being pushed in a stroller. Anything else is too dangerous. 😛

  9. Independent research indicates that drivers are distracted even when using hands-free phones in cars. Driving is a cognitively demanding task and even hands free technology takes attention away from it. So the AAA may have its own agenda (or not, I don’t know) but there is a legitimate safety issue, it should not be ignored.

  10. AAA is an excellent insurance company. We can joke about roadmaps, old people and so on, but every day AAA sees the outcomes of distracted driving. It is a HUGE issue that should not be taken lightly — all voices should be heard. I for one think SIRI integration looks promising and will not make the problem any worse than it already is (with texting while driving).

  11. Whenever an organization says that someone “should not be allowed to engage in” something, they’ve lost me. If they say “we should point out the dangers of engaging in” something, more power to them.

    I’m an adult. If you want me to “not engage” in something, tell me why. If you tell me, “you shouldn’t be allowed to do that” without telling me WHY first, you have just made your argument a candidate for a Jeopardy! answer, under the category “Things that Controlling Liberal Dweebs Say.”

  12. The issue in safely operating a motor vehicle is judgment and responsibility. Is it safe to lift your drink to your mouth? Depends on the circumstances at the time (judgment). Is it safe to glance at the radio so you can change stations? Depends on the circumstances.

    I have a driving safety record that is the envy of every insurance agent — to say more would tempt fate. But I can be surprisingly distracted just trying to locate the wiper controls when using my wife’s car, and then back again in my car. I have to exercise judgment as to whether or not the visibility situation is worse than the danger posed by looking for the control. In both of our vehicles the headlights are automatic, so on those occasions where I need to flash my lights on and off to alert an oncoming driver that his/her lights aren’t on I recognize and evaluate the danger I pose by being distracted in locating the headlight controls which I rarely touch versus the danger that other driver poses.

  13. From conception to crematorium automobile accidents seem to be the most popular and most preferred means of death, greater than disease or war.
    For some to be carless is a castration worse than death.

    Every year at beginning of summer holidays we see a family filled car slowing near the entrance of a town or city to unfold a windshield covering map and I’ve never seen or heard a complaint.

    Now the thought police are going hysterical because someone might be talking in their car. No, not turning completely around to whack one of the kids. Talking and seeing, just part of what good pilots need to do. What is wrong with Siri hearing a few last minute prayers to God before the turn off.

  14. The National AAA office and anything they produce is a flat out joke. They are the biggest bunch of hypocritical AAA-holes. EXAMPLE: They started selling AAA branded cell phones to drivers –never EVER did they recommend not talking on the phone while driving in their ad material until 5 years later. Same deal when they were exploring putting NAVTEK sat nav into cars with GM. They just wanted to make the sale and get the money. They don’t care about safety. That’s their cover for the IRS so they don’t have to pay taxes. They pretend they are a not-for-profit, public safety oriented club. I claim B. S.

    Needs more study = “…Crap! We need to buy more time to develop some POS technology to create market confusion amongst our members so we can sell it to them because of their blind trust that we know whats best.”

    That place is where old people go to retire and die.

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