Why does BMW want drivers to be (even more) distracted?

BMW is integrating Skype for Business into new cars. 

The features will be integrated into the new BMW series in parts of Europe. Other markets—including the U.S.— should see it soon. 

“Microsoft Exchange will also integrate calendars, to-do lists and contacts using the car’s voice and navigation systems,”

according to the company’s press release.

Here’s why this strikes me as incredibly, obviously dangerous.

1. A car is not an office. 

Cars are “rapidly turning into “mobile office[s] on wheels” said BMW spokesperson Nadja Horn

No, they are not.

Your primary task in your office is work. Your primary task in your car is driving. 

Anything that distracts you from that task is dangerous. 

This has nothing to do with work ethic, your commitment to your employer, or your ability to multitask. 

Integrating conference call features (and the ability to check and change your calendar) into your car doesn’t make it safer for you to do these things while driving.

Chances are, you can’t crash your office.


2. Participating in a conference call is not the same as listening to the radio …

The Skype integration is currently limited to audio conferencing—or a video conference through voice. BMW claims that the Skype feature was tested to make sure it’s no more distracting than “using the radio.” 

That is absurd.

The radio doesn’t expect a response. People on conference calls usually do. 

BMW should release these test results to the public. They are contradictory to everything we know about distracted driving. 


3. … And it is different than talking to passengers. 

People in your car can see what you see.

They know when you’re driving in heavy traffic, or at high speed. 

They can see the same weather patterns, stop lights and crosswalks. 

No one on your Skype call can see what you see.

That is not to say that drivers are never distracted by passengers. But you don’t set out to be distracted by your passengers.  

If you plan to be on a conference call during your commute, you are planning to be driving distracted. 


Bottom line: participating in a conference call while driving a car cannot be made safe. 

The fact that BMW is making it easier to drive distracted does does not make it safer. 

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