General Motors latest dashboard tech is designed with the best intentions. In an ideal world, it would transform the frustrating solitude of gridlock into a daisies-and-dandelions meet-and-greet. DiDi Plate, an Android app for the automaker’s infotainment system, allows drivers to use each other's license plates to send text messages. It’s a modern take on waving from the rear facing seats in a ’90s station wagon and arguably a very bad idea.
According GM China’s research and development director, the company plans to roll DiDi out in the People’s Republic. Should it prove popular, the app could well take the fast boat from Shanghai. We almost hope it does because its introduction onto American roads would be about as effective as one of GM’s 17.73 million recalled ignition switches. Whether they drive aggressively or defensively, Americans grow up thinking of their automobiles as personal space. The road is the only place where yelling at the slow, the elderly, and the police is considered acceptable behavior. Pathological or not, having a one-sided screaming match is a great way to unwind after a long day. It’s the air guitar of social interactions.
Yes, drivers could use DiDi to help each other out – “Your tail light is out,” “
” – but they won’t. Instead, they’ll curse each other out and send dirty messages. Yes, DiDi would give American drivers a different way to express themselves, but it would also give American drivers an audience and no one wants to hear that stuff. America’s roads are a lonely, angry place, and that’s exactly as it should be.