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Is It Safe? GM’s New App Allows Drivers to Shop Right from the Road

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A new app from General Motors will allow drivers to make online purchases right from the road. GM’s new app, coined “the Marketplace,” is rolling out this month and is expected to come equipped on all new 2017 and 2018 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac models.

Drivers will be able to select from six options while behind the wheel: “Fuel Up,” “Find Parking,” “Order Food,” “Reserve Table,” “Reserve Hotel,” “Shop for Car.”  GM hopes to capitalize on the fact that Americans spend an average of 46 minutes driving per day, a time not yet accessible to retailers and marketers. GM also hopes that the app can make the roads safer.

But the fact that drivers will have access to the Marketplace app while on the road has garnered criticism from several safety advocates, including The National Safety Council. Additionally, a recent study conducted by Professor David Strayer at the University of Utah found that similar infotainment systems tend to distract drivers rather than keep them safer. Strayer commented that, “…with the best intentions, we will put some technology in the car that we think will make the car safer, but people being people will use that technology in ways that we don’t anticipate.”

Of course, GM is the first to state that’s exactly what they intended to do, provide a safer alternative to using smartphones while driving. In fact, according to GM spokesman Vijay Iyer, the app is specifically engineered to comply with voluntary driver-distraction guidelines agreed to by major car manufacturers.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg Technology, National Safety Council President Deborah Hersman emphasized that GM’s new app will inevitably contribute to the rising number of auto fatalities, which grew nearly six percent in the U.S. last year.

“There’s nothing about this that’s safe,” Hersman said. “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.”

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