Watching videos while driving is impossible. In fact, in some states it's illegal. But only one person at a time can drive. This leaves any passengers free to do other things, such as enjoy video entertainment on the car or van's video system.

As strange as it may sound, says the current issue of Video magazine, car video was an inevitable development. One factor is that people are spending more time on the road, be it either for business or pleasure. And, considering the popularity of video and video technology it makes sense that they'd want to take what they enjoy with them. Enter car video.Car video systems are permanent installations in cars or vans, in the same way sound systems are. They consist of the same basic equipment that's found in home video setups, but there are differences.

First, the videocassette recorder - which plays regular-sized videotapes is smaller than normal. This is because it has to fit in the tight space between the front seats. The monitors have 3- to 5-inch liquid crystal screens and are mounted either on the VCR between the seats or on the interior side panels.

What does a car video system cost?

The only one that's presently on the market is by Hitachi and costs $2,590. For that price, consumers get a tiny VHS VCR, a 5-inch liquid crystal display monitor and an infrared remote control. Both Toshiba and JVC plan on introducing car video systems in the near future.

Systems can be as complex as the imagination and budget allow. For example, watching movies isn't the only thing these systems are good for. Some owners have installed the popular Nintendo video game system, while others have outfitted their vehicles with separate headphone-equipped video systems in the front and rear.

Anyone who's interested in installing such a system needs to find a reputable car electronics specialist.

In addition to installing the system so that it produces a quality picture, the specialist will also have to know how to set up the audio side of the system. This will compensate for tricky vehicle acoustics.

Finally, drivers won't be able to enjoy this new technology. For safety reasons, most states prohibit positioning a video monitor where a driver can see it.