World and Nation

Shorts (left)

A Deadly Drive to Distraction In Gadget-Laden Vehicles

Drivers have never had so many distractions tempting them to take their eyes off the road and their hands off the wheel.

Talking on cell phones and typing text messages while driving has already led to bans in many states. But now auto companies, likening their latest models to living rooms on the road, are turning cars into cocoons of communication systems and high-tech entertainment.

Some drivers are even packing their car interiors with GPS navigation screens, portable DVD players and computer keyboards and printers.

State Sen. Carl L. Marcellino of New York learned this firsthand while riding in a cab in Miami — the driver was watching a boxing match on a television mounted on the dashboard.

“I can understand a monitor in the rear, but up front it is a different world,” said Marcellino, who sponsored a bill last year to ban all “display generating devices” in the driver’s view. New York already has a law against TV sets in the front seat. “The driver shouldn’t be doing anything other than driving,” Marcellino said.

India’s Cooling IPO Climate May Point to A Slowdown

Could the fast-growing Indian economy finally be slowing?

In its first day of trading Monday, shares of Reliance Power fell 17 percent below its offer price last month, when investors bought all available stock in the country’s largest public offering in less than a minute.

The Bombay Stock Exchange’s benchmark Sensex index also closed down 4.78 percent on Monday, the worst performer in major Asian markets.

Reliance Power’s disappointing market debut followed days of slower growth projections, higher-than-expected inflation figures and falling export data. Several initial public offerings have been withdrawn in India in the last few weeks as once-resilient investors rethink their commitment to India’s volatile stock markets.

In a sign that consumer spending may need a lift, the country’s largest bank, State Bank of India, cut its main lending rate a quarter of a point Monday, after similar moves by other big local banks.

“People are becoming more realistic” about India’s growth prospects, said Gurunath Mudlapur, managing director of Atherstone Institute of Research in Mumbai.

After Strike, Ad Agencies See Window to Alter TV Business

Madison Avenue, assessing the aftermath of the writers’ strike, is optimistic that there can be long-term benefits from the disruptions suffered during the 2007-8 broadcast TV season.

“Unfortunately, there’s no opportunity for a do-over,” said Rino Scanzoni, chief investment officer at GroupM, the division of the WPP Group that oversees media agencies like MindShare.

But there is plenty of opportunity to start fresh in the post-strike era, particularly in the areas where agency executives would most like to see change. For one, they would welcome the adoption of a year-round television season rather than the September-to-May schedule now followed by the broadcasters (ABC, CBS, CW, Fox and NBC).

With all the new series introduced in fall, “there’s a lot of hype in September,” said Charlie Rutman, chief executive for the North American operations of MPG, a media agency owned by Havas. “And by November, half the shows aren’t on anymore.”