As marketers focus their energies on reaching mobile audiences and 19 percent of drivers search the web, U.S. officials are trying to limit in-car search and social internet developments.

Nearly one in five drivers say they check the internet behind the wheel, but it looks like automotive search will not become a trend any time soon if the U.S. government has anything to say about it.

The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood wants to minimize drivers' access to new media and internet-enabled gadgets. “There's absolutely no reason for any person to download their Facebook into the car,” LaHood said in a recent interview.

The Transportation Secretary may have been thinking of a GM commercial, featuring a man checking Facebook as he drives away after dropping off his date. The commercial boasts that the car offers “real-time Facebook status updates, when the good news just can't wait.” The “responsible connectivity” uses OnStar voice command to enable drivers to access their social pages.

The GM Facebook feature was not the first (or last) internet-friendly car gadget to come around. Brafton reported reported back in January that Microsoft had made a deal with Toyota to bring Bing to drivers via voice-activated search.

In fact, searching and driving is becoming somewhat common. An Allstate survey reveals that 19 percent of drivers use the internet while behind the wheel. Top activities include emailing, searching for info of “immediate interest” (local?) and using social networking sites (including Facebook).

Still, mobile marketers will likely want to keep smartphones and tablets in mind when planning their one-the-go search and social campaigns. The Journal reports that LaHood's department is devising a new set of guidelines about design and use of communication-enabled technology that could limit even voice-activated search and social activity. The government is investigating whether “hands free” really means safe.

Even with automobile search and social activity, marketers should still consider their on-the-go audiences who aren't behind the wheel. As Brafton has reported, smartphone owners prefer to search the web on mobile devices over desktops.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.