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Safety Group: GM In-Dash Marketplace Means More Distracted Driving Fatalities

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Drivers of new GM cars will soon be able to order food, find the nearest gas station and even locate a hotel room, thanks to an in-car application named Marketplace. Despite GM claiming it will make driving time " more productive, enjoyable and safer" the app is being met with protest by the National Safety Council.

"There is nothing about this that's safe," said National Safety Council President Deborah Hersman. "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.

She contends that the app, which allows touchscreen deal browsing and ordering by drivers, will increase the frequency of distracted driving, which already contributes to 25 percent of all motor vehicle accidents. In addition it will stymy efforts to curtail rising auto fatalities that grew by 5.6 percent last year in the U.S. to more than 37,000.

GM said on Nov. 28 that it will launch the app, which connects to major brands such as Starbuck's, TGI Friday's, Priceline and Dunkin' Donuts, in millions of 2017 and 2018 model year vehicles, equipped with Wi-Fi hotspots and compatible systems.

"The average American spends 46 minutes per day on the road," said GM's vice president of global connected customer experience, Santiago Chamorro at a Detroit press event. "We want to make this time more productive, more enjoyable and safer."

GM is calling Marketplace the first on demand commerce platform of it's kind, riding the wave of the auto giant's attempt to establish itself as a tech leader in the mobility industry and shedding it's investors perceived dinosaur image. While wading deeper into the autonomy of the future it strives to meet the needs of today's increasingly connected drivers.

"GM has gotten a jump on other automakers when it comes to offer shopping services in the dashboard," said Mike Ramsey, a research director at Gartner Inc. "In North America and Europe, this is definitely advanced. GM is definitely ahead of everybody.

"We wouldn't do anything to compromise anyone's safety." Says Phil Brook, sales and marketing vice-president at Buick-GMC. "It's really just a matter of understanding how Marketplace works."

While Brook is touting Marketplace as easier to navigate while driving than many audio systems, Debbie Hersman shared her negative sentiment in a statement to WardsAuto.

"With motor vehicle deaths rising, the last thing we want to do is offer drivers another way to be distracted." Hersman said. "Hands free systems are not safer - the research is clear on this. We need to find ways to protect drivers - not expose them to unnecessary risk."

Brook made no indication whether the Marketplace technology will eventually lead to voice command operation in the future as many other systems operate.

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Where Will the Legal Blame Lie?

Marketplace was launched with the hope that GM can capture a segment of the $57 billion on-demand technology. Was it a risk worth taking? If this technology leads to an increase in distracted driving fatalities will the courts hold GM accountable by awarding large settlements to victims loved ones? Or will the blame fall solely on the distracted drivers negligence?

If you or a loved one was injured or you lost a loved one due to what you believe was a distracted driver, reach out to a car accident attorney at Vititoe Law Group for a free consultation. Our attorneys have the skill and experience to stand stand up to the powerful automakers.

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