Jaguar XJ Advanced Satnav System May Be Too Advanced For U.S. Law

August 10, 2009

The Jaguar XJ has a spankin' new in-dash satnav system, featuring a split screen that allows passengers to watch movies and other media, while giving the person behing the wheel access only to maps and other driving-related data. But as snazzy and envelope-pushing as that may sound, the system may not be legal in the U.S.

Currently, American law prohibits entertainment systems aimed at front-seat riders, whether they come from manufacturers or as aftermarket add-ons. Jaguar agrees that the XJ satnav's standing in light of that regulation is pretty clear: Ian Callum, design honcho for Jaguar, plainly states that "At the moment, it's technically illegal."

Given humankind's impulse to multi-task, we tend to agree with laws that help prevent driver distraction. Between texting and dancing and taking showers, drivers have generally proven that they are willing, if not totally capable, of doing almost anything behind the wheel, so we understand that the simple allure of watching, say, volume three of Zack and Cody ("Lip Synchin In the Rain") would be too much temptation for many to bear.

On the other hand, the genius of the XJ's satnav system is its split screen, which prevents drivers from seeing the passenger screen at all, or from accessing any sort of entertainment items while in motion. This is a major innovation on Jaguar's part, and one that U.S. officials hadn't anticipated when they drafted the regulation. Jaguar hopes that after reviewing the system, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will amend the law to accommodate it. We hope so too, but that may be a long, steep hill to climb.

[Autocar via JV]

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