Cars being sold with Wi-Fi connectivity

Experts say Wi-Fi could distract drivers

By David Hall - Anchor

ORLANDO, Fla. - An increased number of automakers are equipping their cars with wi-fi, so drivers can stay connected right from the road.

Bill Begal spends hours in his car as his company cleans up after floods and fires all around his area, but as important as it is for Begal to stay connected he thought twice about upgrading his car to include Wi-Fi. 

[WEB EXTRA: More information on cost of in-car connectivity ]

"I thought it would be silly to spend an extra $20 a month on something I don't need and then I realized it could be an absolute asset," said Begal.

Now Begal just starts up his car, his Wi-Fi password is saved in the system, so his electronics automatically hook up to an encrypted connection.

He checks email, sends proposals, even catches up on his favorite television shows between appointments.

"I absolutely believe that having the Wi-Fi is much more reliable than just cell signal."

Automotive gurus say the number of cars offering Wi-Fi is increasing each year.

So how does it work?

"You're going to have a cell modem in the vehicle that's going to then send out a Wi-Fi hotspot and at that point you just sync up your laptop, tablet, or computer and you're ready to go," said Ron Montoya of Edmunds.

Current car connectivity ranges from 3G to  the faster 4G LTE.

But of course, you've got to pay for the data you use. 

Besides hooking your electronic devices up to the car's signal Edmunds says in the future the bigger benefit will be having your car linked to dealers and auto makers.

"The fact that the car is connected to the web will allow it to get updates from the manufacturer, receive diagnostic information and communicate with the outside world," said Montoya.

But safety experts warn: don't drive distracted.

AAA found any time your brain isn't geared on driving-you could be heading toward trouble.

"Interacting with the Internet may create a situation where we are not processing the information that we take in the roadway in the same way that we would just focused on the task of driving. So we may see a red light, see a stop sign but not really process what that means and go right through it," said Jacob Nelson with AAA.

Begal says the constant connection is tempting so he takes precautions, "The urge to want to check email or hear what the Bing is about can absolutely be distracting.  One way I take myself out of it is keep my phone in the back seat."

The prices of the data packages range on how much you use and your provider.

Some providers allow you to add the car to your data plan like an extra phone.

Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.