Ordering Coffee Through Your Car? New Apps Turn Cars Into Smartphones, Raising Safety Questions

Analysts expect more car companies to link up with retailers, fast-food chains and other merchants to offer car owners the same kinds of e-commerce apps that have long been available on smartphones.

Auto industry executives see the new apps as an added convenience and revenue generator, with merchants paying to have their icons and discount deals displayed on the touch screen.

But safety advocates say such features only further contribute to driver distraction. After years of decline, the number of U.S. road deaths increased in 2015 and 2016, and safety groups say the rise is in part driven by smartphones and infotainment systems giving drivers more reason to take their eyes off the road.