GM’s Marketplace app doubles down on distracted driving

December 12, 2017

Tyson Fisher

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What’s more dangerous? Changing a song on a music app while driving or ordering a venti iced skinny caramel macchiato con panna with a shot of hazelnut syrup while driving? According to GM’s Marketplace, they’re basically the same thing.

If you drive a 2017-18 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac, you may have noticed some additions to the computer screen on your dashboard called Marketplace. Icons for Shell, ExxonMobil, TGI Fridays, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts will upload to nearly 2 million vehicles.

This is GM’s latest attempt to get into the e-commerce market. The automaker is partnering up with companies to offer drivers the opportunity to purchase items…while driving.

You read that right. GM’s Marketplace will allow motorists to order coffee or make dinner reservations while going 70 mph on the interstate. Options include:

  • Purchasing data packages, OnStar subscriptions and other vehicle-specific offers;
  • Order coffee from Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts;
  • Order food from Wingstop;
  • Reserve a table at TGI Fridays and Applebees;
  • Locate Shell and ExxonMobil stations;
  • Hotel reservations from Priceline.com;
  • Reserve and pay for parking via Parkopedia;
  • To-go orders at IHOP; and
  • Order goods and services using Delivery.com.

GM's Marketplace

If you’re thinking “Surely, GM probably wants the vehicle to be stopped before fooling around with retail apps,” then you are wrong. From GM’s new release:

“Marketplace is designed to be used while driving.”

Really?

Politicians and safety groups have been on a crusade against distracted driving for many years now. State after state is passing legislation that bans the use of handheld devices while driving.

Yet, for whatever reason, no one is raising a stink about GM’s Marketplace?

The trucking industry is getting bombarded with criticism over a variety of issues regarding fatigue, such as sleep apnea, hours of service and ELDs. However, fatigue accounts for an insignificant amount of crashes.

Meanwhile, crashes are going up, and distracted driving has been attributed as a direct cause for many of them.

In fact, I reported on a study in October that found in-vehicle technology can be as distracting as cell phones. More specifically, the exact computer screen technologies GM’s Marketplace uses. Research conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded that built-in devices that allow texting, navigation and audio play divert a driver’s attention away from the road significantly.

Jake Fisher, head of auto testing for Consumer Reports, told CNN that GM’s Marketplace “does seem distracting,” but perhaps not any more distracting than the other interactive features already featured in newer vehicles.

But according to AAA’s in-vehicle technology study, that’s a poor comparison considering that those other interactive features can be dangerous as well.

To be fair, Consumer Reports did determine the most and least distracting infotainment systems. Ranked in the least distracting systems list were all GM vehicles (except Cadillacs). Consumer Reports mentioned the pros were large text, traditional knobs/buttons and comprehensive steering-wheel controls. The cons include swiping motions that are difficult to do while driving and the smaller screen version is more difficult to use.

Regardless, that does not take away from the studies that suggest these infotainment systems are distracting nonetheless. And those studies are pretty clear. Yet, we’re allowing MORE distracting technologies.

There is little evidence that proves ELDs and HOS regs are making the roadways safer. However, we have no problem passing legislation that would suggest otherwise and cause a severe burden to truckers across the nation.

But when it comes to the average American’s right to use distracting technologies, you will have to pry them from their cold, dead hands. Unfortunately, we might have to literally do that.

PrePass

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.