Garmin: Chat, Navigate and Steer — But Don’t Drive Distracted

The first time I saw this ad I thought my eyes and ears were deceiving me. But no, there it is: a young woman holding a cellphone toward the camera as "nüvifone" maker Garmin beckons viewers to "communicate while navigating."

"With my nüvifone, I can take calls from my friends while I’m driving to them," she says as she’s shown piloting an SUV with two passengers, one of whom accepts an incoming call on a phone mounted to the windshield. (Note to Garmin: Hands-free is not brain-free.)

Maybe the most egregious aspect is the "Do not drive while distracted" disclaimer — which pops up as the young woman is depicted driving while distracted.


What the ad doesn’t show: The driver plows her SUV through one of the pedestrian-populated shots that follow, and bystanders whip out their nüvifones to call 911, text their friends and photograph the carnage.

  • Memo to personal-injury lawyers: Put this on your radar. You can make serious money from this. When this product is implicated in a crash involving fatal or life-changing injuries — as it inevitably will — that will be your moment to shine. Take this commercial into court and sue this company into oblivion. Let the legal feeding frenzy begin. Bon appetit!

  • In commercials, every single choice, down to the tiniest detail, has been considered and discussed. The fact that they chose to show the driver *actually taking her eyes off the road while driving* shows some astounding gall, or perhaps astounding ignorance shared by the many people who had authority over the content of this spot. Shame on Garmin and their ad agency.

  • Kaja

    Oh please. The passenger answers the call, and the thing’s mounted in her field of view, precisely where it’ll least obstruct her view.

    > every single choice, down to the tiniest detail, has been considered and discussed.

    Yes the lawyers signed off on it, that’s why you won’t be able to “sue this company into oblivion.”

  • I think Mark’s spot on; that screenshot above would be damning in the eyes of a jury regardless of any clever arguments about how putting the distraction in the field of vision is less disruptive. And what about the fact that it has a touch screen–using that pretty much requires the driver to narrow her field of vision to the screen, so that eye and hand can coordinate. She is expected to use residual or peripheral vision during this maneuver to avoid a crash, hmmm?

    In any event, if Kaja is right that the lawyers “signed off on it”–which I highly doubt–then the company can turn around sue them for malpractice, but it won’t stop the products liability suits against the company.

  • Small vehicles are much more suitable for electronic devices like this since people can easily stop and use them safely.

    GPS and with electronic communications, data processing, etc. are perfect for networked small vehicle in systems with lots of hands free-automation.

  • i read that texting while driving increases the chance for an accident by 23 times. i wonder what the odds are for gpsing and driving.

    and if someone is yelling at their significant other on their cell phone, because they are late to so an so’s party and simultaneously using the gps to figure out how to get there, what then are the odds? 100 times more likely.

  • Kaja

    > I any event, if Kaja is right that the lawyers “signed off on it”

    Every single ad which airs is reviewed by the lawyers. There is not a single ad that’s not. This happens systematically because otherwise, lawsuits like you describe would be flying in every direction. Advertising agencies have their own counsel, as do the clients, making for double review.

    Driving, I spend at least 20% of my time checking mirrors and glancing into the periphery of my vision; far more when I’m making a turn. Often I turn my head to check a blindspot, taking my eyes “off the road” for far longer than Miss Garmin here does. Having a heated argument with a passenger is more dangerous.

    She doesn’t narrow her field of vision, she narrows her focus. Go look at an object forty feet away, and note what you can see in your periphery; then hold your finger up in front of your face, don’t turn your head, and note what you can see in your periphery. Hint: THE SAME THINGS.

    This is specious whining and makes us all look bad.

  • The Dynamic Mumeshantz

    Kaja – surprise! – lawyers sign off on things incorrectly all the time.

    This ad is bad. The problem is every driver thinks distracted driving is something all the other drivers do. We don’t need to add more and more items that distract the driver.

  • bc

    lawyers signing off on something does nothing to protect that company from a lawsuit, it’s not a shield. If that were true, as you said in reverse, no company would ever be subject to a lawsuit.


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