The head of the US Department of Transportation is determined to put a stop to the proliferation of internet and advanced communications technologies in new cars, believing they will lead to increased driver distraction and potentially more crashes.
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US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told the Wall Street Journal he was concerned about the trend of vehicle manufacturers to equip their cars with more and more technology that is likely to decrease driver concentration.

“There's absolutely no reason for any person to download their Facebook into the car,” Mr LaHood said.

The Transportation secretary and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have the power the limit the spread of various in-car technologies as long as they can prove the new systems make cars less safe for drivers and their passengers.

The Chevrolet Cruze’s OnStar infotainment system (available in the US) already allows drivers to update their Facebook status and listen to their news feed while on the go.

Many cars in Europe are capable of connecting to the internet and displaying websites and search results on large LCD screens. The technology has spread to Australia too, as we saw last week in the new 2011 Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Automotive industry analyst IHS iSuppli predicts more than 60 million vehicles equipped with similar advanced infotainment systems could be on the road within the next six years.

Mr LaHood and his department are currently working on a set of guidelines for the design and functionality of in-car communications technologies, which is expected to be released next year.

What do you think about the new technology? Is in-car internet access a step too far and a potential safety hazard, or is it simply the way of the future?