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Letters: Safe Driving; EAS

Selections from RW’s Reader’s Forum

Keep Drivers Safe, Not Distracted

I keep hearing statements in Radio World and in other journals about how potential car buyers “want a full browsing experience in the dash,” and want to be connected while driving.

It’s bad enough that drivers are texting or retrieving their emails with their smartphones, and taking their eyes off the road for this. Now the carmakers are suggesting they interface with a touch-screen on the dash so they can Google the best place for sushi in Los Angeles?

As someone who used to travel heavily, I remember when car rental places began putting GPS units in vehicles. When I first interacted with one, I recall trying to look at it and drive at the same time, until I finally just wanted it to be quiet; but it kept telling me to go back to the last exit. I shut it off because I realized I was actually slowing down and not paying sufficiently close attention to the road.

I believe most modern-day consumers want their devices to stay portable and do not need the vehicle for connectivity. I recently helped someone achieve Bluetooth connectivity between their smartphone and their new vehicle, thereby allowing them hands-free operation to answer calls without taking either hand off the wheel. Now that made sense.

Funny thing about the AM/FM radio in my vehicles is that I simply press a button on my steering wheel or radio and select the station I want. That ends my interface with it. Even while driving outside the range of my presets, I need only hit the search button repeatedly to find a station that fits my needs and merrily go on my way with minimum distraction.

Rather then making vehicles with Internet-equipped dashboards, manufacturing efforts would be best served trying to make vehicles safely drive themselves, so the operator can watch reruns of sitcoms or browse the Net safely.

After all, did not the technology experts tell us we would be in vehicles like the Jetsons’ by now anyway?

Allan A. Augustyn
Director of Network Engineering
Radio Results Network
Escanaba, Mich.

Another Read on EAS

In reading Warren Shulz’s guest commentary (“It’s Broke; Stop Trying to Fix It,” June 5), I am glad to see that someone shares my same outlook on EAS.

We are missing the boat by not utilizing the NOAA chain of weather-alert stations. We are stuck receiving FM broadcast stations that were set up as LP1 and LP2 years ago. Some of these stations are in fringe reception areas, but that is what we are dictated to monitor.

Then, when a “nationwide alert” is generated, it is like holding a camera while looking into several mirrors: lots of distortion with multiple stations echoing at each other. Broadcasters have spent a lot of time and money to comply with the “new” EAS requirements, and results have been poor at best.

On paper it may work, but in practice, it certainly does not. States have fallen short on rewriting statewide EAS plans, and too many agencies have their fingers in the pie.

Most of my clients have “hard copy” EAS logs and everything is kept in binders. Paper and ink manufacturers are making a lot of money from people that keep hard copies. No longer do we have the small paper tapes. We have binders and binders of letter-size printouts.

So far, in 2013, one of my clients has a 4-inch binder and two 2-inch binders full of printouts, and we’re only halfway through the year.

As Mr. Shulz pointed out, the EAS system is broke, and “high-tech” isn’t always the best solution.

I remember watching officials on TV when Hurricane Sandy went up north. They told people to use their cellphones to call numbers for shelters or go online to specific websites, but did they not realize that most cellular coverage was down and most people in the affected area had no Internet connectivity. Nor did most people have TV in the affected areas. Some people couldn’t figure why they couldn’t get instructions from emergency officials on their MP3 players.

We have a lot of work ahead of us.

Joe W. Patton
Patton Communications
La Grange, N.C.