In-dash DVD players for cars gain in popularity? Are they insane?

Did I miss the memo that went around saying that driving would need to become increasingly dangerous in the next decade to make sure we can prune the population and generally make sure that only the fittest and toughest drivers survive? I mean, isn’t it enough distraction that people chat on their little cellphones with one hand while driving, eat, drink, shave, put on makeup and generally do as much as possible to deny that they’re driving a ton of metal at high speed?
Apparently not.
According to the consumer electronics industry bible TWICE, in-dash DVD players are one of the hottest segments in the car audio right now. Unlike the kind of entertainment system you see built in to new SUVs and minivans (and I admit, our new Toyota Sienna has a DVD player) these will let the driver also watch whatever movie is playing.

TWICE doesn’t touch on the safety issues or implications, just reporting dryly that:
“Sales of in-dash DVD are on the rise due to falling prices and a broadening selection, said industry members…Although still a small niche compared with CD players, DVD/monitors are a welcome breath of fresh air in a market where CD player sales have declined by 30 percent.
“According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), in-dash DVD/monitor shipments to retailers are up by 60 percent this year through May (single and double DIN), but on a relatively small base of 141,000 units. This compares with year-to-date sales of CD players of 3.2 million units. Price tags on DVD/monitors, however, are a hefty $1,000 for top brand models (compared with low-end CD at under $150), helping to generate $87 million in sales, compared with CD players’ $356 million.”
Being rather curious about this and in denial that these would let the driver watch a movie and are legal to sell in the United States, I dug around a bit…
I searched for the Pioneer AVH-P6800DVD, the one product specifically mentioned in the TWICE article and found that it indeed plays commercial DVDs and even home-made DVDs so you can watch that cute video of your kids playing while driving 80mph on the highway.
Here’s a picture of how Pioneer Electronics envisions this 6-DVD player would be installed in a car, so you can get a sense of what we’re talking about:

Pioneer AVH-P6800DVD Installed in Dash

Maybe I’m just not plugged into the hip new generation of super-multitasking auto drivers, but I’m just aghast that someday I’ll be sharing the road with drivers who will be more interested in watching something like To Live and Die in LA than in watching the road.
How do you feel about the rise of this auto accessory?

22 comments on “In-dash DVD players for cars gain in popularity? Are they insane?

  1. You know there is a part of me that says, yeah a DVD player would be cool for those long road trips. But then I see the people who pop them on for their kids to just go to the store, or worse, I see the videos games going on them – on that LONG trip to McDonalds.
    Seriously, what is WRONG with looking out the window and seeing the world.
    And now you can watch them WHILE you drive.
    Now that is social darwinism at it’s best.
    I suspect we’ll all evolve an additional eye just for TV watching while we drive……

  2. The most horrble thing I’ve seen to date is a new series of child-oriented grocery shopping carts (basically strollers with baskets), that have televisions in them.
    Truly, if children can no longer even participate in real life for the thirty minutes it takes to complete grocery shopping, we are headed for some pretty rough times.

  3. We have enough accidents on the road without dashboard DVD’s as it is. I can’t imagine why anyone who is driving will want to watch a movie and drive or how they will be able to do so. I am worried at the thought of sharing the road with teenage drivers (who are aggressive and new drivers as it is) who not only want to drive but will now consider it a cool thing to watch a movie and drive.
    BTW, people get tickets for drinking and driving, for driving while talking on cell, maybe this could get one a ticket too!

  4. Huh? I’ve always heard that it is illegal to have a tv where the driver could see it. it’s okay for the backseat but not the front.
    So how can this be allowed?
    By the way the trend is towards more restrictions on distracting devices. My state recently passed a law reqiring hands-free cell phones (while driving). You are not allowed to hold it while driving because it was deemed to be too big of a distraction. And some places have outlawed cell phone use in cars altogether.

  5. You have to illegaly modify the dvd player to play video when the car is in drive. Try doing actual research next time.

  6. Sorry, but we live in a world of mods, hacks, and tweaks, and these devices are explicitly being advertised as allowing drivers to view the video screens. Do you really think that someone who bought one of these devices couldn’t find the mod instructions via Google in about 90 seconds and fix that limitation?

  7. Thank you! I got in a HUGE fight over in-car and in-shopping-cart DVD usage on another blog. I was the only person who thought it was an appalling thing to do with a child. Sure ups the figure from your other post – that kids are “only” watching 2 hours of TV a day. I doubt it. I’d say it’s more like 2 hours without the TV on per day in some households.
    I wish I could get my husband to understand that my daughter is watching the TV, even when it is not on children’s programming. I can NOT get him to turn off CNN in the morning – in spite of repeated requests – even though they routinely show violence that is unmatched during network prime time programming. It’s not as though, at one, she can say, “Oh, this is Daddy’s news, I’d better not pay attention.” But he watches it in the morning, while getting ready for work, and mostly while he’s feeding her breakfast so I can get a shower. I’m not around to remind him every single morning, and he seems to forget daily. Grrr…
    But if you see me with a screen in the front seat of my next car, know that it’s a navigation system, and not a DVD player, ok? I once got lost and ended up in the wrong state. I’m that bad. 🙂

  8. Okay here goes, but you are not going to like it though.
    Virtually from birth we are subjected to what is good for us or what we should or should not do. All fine when my safety is concerned as a child though. See now I am a grown up I am sick and tired of other grownups telling me what I should or should not do.
    For the sake of… I have as good a brain as the next guy, am capable of making up my own mind and sometimes being wrong. Do not tell the wife though. Anyway a car manufacturer can, as far as I am concerned, have the back seats of a car electrified by the driver with a push of a button to quieten the people in the back seats if they wish and are allowed by law, but here is the big one, I would not buy the car. Is this so hard for people to see. if you do not like something being in a vehicle do not buy it. Speak with your feet. As far as the dvd player goes I think it is great idea I had 4 kids and wished, on long journeys, they had something more than my singing to entertain them, I am sure they did too. So get real, legal, illegal, so what do not buy it if you do not wlike it but stop pressuring the mind police to make up my mind for me.

  9. I don’t understand how anybody with half a brain could support DVD players where drivers can see. Because even if you do have to override them and make them illegal to be seen while drive, the fact of the matter is that it still is possible… and where there’s a will, there’s a way… and all too many people would be just dumb enough to try and drive down the road while watching a movie.
    I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the person coming up in the opposite lane of a car with an overriden illegal DVD player in the drivers seat. There are enough distractions on the roads as it is.

  10. Anonymous, you are perhaps too complacent with the safety mechanisms built into these devices. My belief: if it’s in your dashboard, people are going to figure out how to hack it so that they CAN play the movie while driving. I’ve seen movie players on dashboards while on long drives before, so…

  11. To play DVDs while driving, you have to take the wire that leads to the parking brake wire and connect it with the ground wire. It’s a simple way to bypass playing DVDs while in park.

  12. Ok, well while they are dangerous, so is alot of other things. It all really matters on how they are used. Take smoking for instance, many of times i have thrown my cig. out the window only to have it come back in on me. Now I am scrambeling to get it off and back out. So should we outlaw smoking? or a normal cd player you have to look at it to change anything so your eyes are off the road, lets ban them too. COME ON GET REAL. If your an idiot and you watch a movie while driving then you deserve what you get. And if you ban anything, how about under the hood tune ups??? Nitro, Chips, ect… All make people speed. You cannot ban one thing without attacking all the others so either DONT BUY IT or find a new subject thanks!

  13. Maybe the passanger wants to see the movie and not the driver? Ever think about that? All you elitists who have both a front seat AND a back seat never think about those of us with only a front seat. Shame on you. Corvette-owners are people too. 🙂

  14. What struck me about most of the people that commented saying that this is an acceptable or even good idea, is that all they talked about was their own convenience or pleasure. What about the people they are going to plow into while watching a movie at 70 mph? I guess I just don’t get the “It’s all about me” generation.

  15. Dvd players are nice for passengers who want to watch movies, they don’t necessarily distract them any more than a gps would

  16. you guys know that you cant watch a dvd with out the parking break on. You can make a bybass switch but not everyone knows so yeah they are safe from factory so just hate the people who endanger your life not the companies who try to help

  17. On my first search of a DVD model to buy I found:
    Very easy to use, dvd’s look amazing, but id recomend getting a Pac Tr-7 so you can play dvd’s while driving.
    Let’s make drinking and driving not illegal either – if you use the reasoning that adults should be free to make their own choices.
    I have no intention to watch a movie while driving- but once found my eyes drift to my dd laptop while she was watching a movie in the passenger seat. It was on a long boring stretch of highway. I made her turn the screen so it wasn’t a temptation. Later I had her watch movies I’d already seen or use headphones. Scarey.

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