Forty years ago, mobile phones looked very different: clunky, brick-like devices that only placed local calls. Since then, mobile devices have undergone rapid evolution. Their features, although futuristic, have created a myriad of problems on Louisiana roads.

Now enters another potentially decade-defining tech distraction: in-vehicle apps. These are accessible on digital displays usually located at the front of the vehicle in the center of the dashboard. Some of these displays can sync to mobile phones.

Shopping behind the wheel

While most apps help drivers with navigation and parking, others create a major distraction. A recent study on how these apps affect driving concluded that in-vehicle systems already on the market are highly distracting. However, a new app could take this hazard to a whole new level.

Imagine making restaurant reservations or ordering doughnuts while weaving through traffic at 60 mph. Sound dangerous? It could become reality for 4 million drivers by 2019. General Motors is releasing an app called Marketplace, which may add to the distractions drivers already have to evade.

What’s the difference between in-vehicle apps and phones?

Still, the question remains if in-vehicle apps are much different from mobile phones in the car. Texting while driving is a common issue on American roadways. Would drivers simply switch from staring at their phone to staring at the dashboard display?

Without more data, it’s hard to say. However, having a diversion like Marketplace built into the vehicle might encourage this behavior more often.

The possible benefits from in-vehicle apps include tracking vehicle maintenance, paying for gas and real-time traffic notifications. These features might not outweigh the danger to human lives and vehicles, however. Where do you stand on the issue of in-car apps?