In-vehicle Technology is Mission Critical for Public Safety

The issue of distracted driving has been in the news recently due to a Department of Transportation campaign and an announcement banning the use of cellular phones in some commercial vehicles. Police agencies, fire departments and other emergency responders have traditionally been exempt from these kinds of regulations due to the mission-critical nature of their work and the value technology delivers in terms of improved response times and enhanced safety for personnel and the public.

Given all of the attention on this issue, The New York Times decided to take a look at distracted driving in public safety vehicles. The story, while ultimately pointing to the value of technology, shared a few somewhat sensational anecdotes that suggest the risks of in-vehicle computing are potentially greater than the reward. Panasonic knows, based on the experience of thousands of our customers, that this is simply not the case.

Panasonic Toughbook computers safely mounted in vehicle docks have become essential for thousands of our law enforcement and public safety customers, enabling them to access and transmit critical data while in the field. While specific usage policies are the responsibility of our customers, Panasonic encourages safe driving habits and promotes the use of our devices and solutions in a responsible manner.

The article points out that “data does not exist about crashes caused by police officers or medics distracted by their devices,” and we are not aware of any incidents or accidents related to the use of our products in vehicles. However, we do know that vehicle-mounted Panasonic Toughbook computers have become essential for thousands of our law enforcement and public safety customers, enabling them to access and transmit critical data and to more safely navigate their jobs.  Having real-time data about stolen vehicles, outstanding warrants and criminal records, for example, helps officers approach situations with the appropriate level of caution.

Panasonic’s commitment to safety has always been an impetus for technology advancements in our mobile computing solutions. That is why we have developed screens that can be both ultra-bright for daylight situations and concealed at night; wireless connectivity that ensures optimal throughput for data availability and situational awareness; solutions that automate processes—such as e-citations and license plate recognition—to minimize the amount of time public safety personnel have to spend at the roadside; and hands-free triggers for digital video solutions.

As the Department of Transportation continues to evaluate the risks associated with in-cab technology, we hope that media will continue to responsibly educate the public about the true value vehicle-based computing can bring.

Clearly, any safety-related incident is unacceptable. Working with our customers and partners on ongoing training and technology enhancements, we believe the rewards will continue to outweigh the risks. What are your thoughts on this issue?


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