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According to NHTSA, there were 3,092 deaths related to distracted driving in 2010

Automakers and the U.S. government are going head-to-head over the installation of Internet-enabled devices in automobiles despite safety-related concerns.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has recently expressed concerns over distracted driving, where drivers are using internet-enabled devices (both in-vehicle and not) in their cars instead of focusing on the road.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is a major advocate of the anti-distracted driving campaign, and even proposed the first-ever distracted driving guidelines in February 2012, which challenged automakers to cut the number of in-vehicle entertainment and information electronics. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued these guidelines, which offer criteria for the kinds of electronic devices and number of devices that can be used within a vehicle.

Despite the government's concerns over safety, automakers are not pulling the plug on in-vehicle electronics. In fact, it looks as if automakers are increasing the number of Internet-enabled in-vehicle devices in order to attract new buyers.

For instance, Volkswagen AG's Audi has said that it is the first to provide in-vehicle access to Google Earth and Wi-Fi. Others, including Ford, General Motors and Nissan have advertised vehicles that have easier access to Google, Facebook and Twitter. Such vehicles are already hitting showrooms.

Automakers are able to do this despite the guidelines that LaHood proposed because the guidelines have not recommended exact limits on in-vehicle devices. LaHood isn't looking to cut technology out of vehicles completely, as he demonstrated in December 2011 when the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) tried to ban hands-free calls while driving. LaHood said he wouldn't back it, since the driver can still keep their hands on the wheel.

However, the fact that automakers are continuously adding more distracting technology is what worries LaHood and other transportation officials.

"When you're behind the wheel of a car, anything that takes your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel can be deadly," said LaHood in a statement. "We don't have to choose between safety and technology, but while these devices may offer consumers new tools and features, automakers have a responsibility to ensure they don't divert a driver's attention away from the road."

Automakers say they're working on devices that only require a small amount of driver's attention, like voice recognition. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers even said that drivers are going to use technology in their vehicles whether its in-vehicle or gadgets that weren't meant for autos like smartphones and tablets, so creating safer in-vehicle devices is a better alternative.

Comments are due on LaHood's distracted driving guidelines today. According to NHTSA, there were 3,092 deaths related to distracted driving in 2010.

"If the auto manufacturers focused as much on safety as they do on marketing their products, we would save a lot of lives," said Deborah Hersman, NTSB chairman.

Source: The Detroit News

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By Dr of crap on 5/21/2012 10:23:21 AM , Rating: 5
While I agree with the distracting problem, there is more to it than that.

What about the drivers that area already afraid to be on the road, just driving in traffic. Now add the increased cars, the drivers weaving side to side, and you have problem multiplied greatly.

I've seen these scared drivers, gripping the wheel, braking/slowing down for nothing, afraid to go around trouble. It makes a lot of others mad and then you get rage, and increased speed to get by....ect.

As bad as it sounds retesting drivers every 5 years should be put in place so that everyone is up on thier rules of the road skills.

I'm tired of everyone thinking they do not have to look to merge into traffic expecting me to just slam on the brakes to let them in. That's NOT how it suspose to work people!

By maven81 on 5/21/2012 10:31:20 AM , Rating: 2
I'm totally with you, there should be mandatory retesting, and the testing should be harder as well. You almost get the impression that some people got their license just by being asked to drive in a circle.
But I would say that while indecisiveness is a problem being impatient is too. The idiots that try to save 5 seconds by racing to cut off several cars in front of them create a lot of the traffic, by making everyone else slow down abruptly. Then there's my personal favorite, trying to squeeze into the exit at the last second by outrunning an entire column of cars and trying to merge in at the entrance.

Now couple these bad drivers with more distractions and that's a recipe for disaster.

By Iaiken on 5/21/2012 12:12:32 PM , Rating: 4
The problem isn't the testing, the problem is the lack of ANY form of real training...

A scared driver will still pass a test because of the way that it is conducted, the real problem is that the vast majority of drivers never bother to improve upon their driving skills. They don't even think about why that improvement is necessary when they are piloting between 1-4 tons of metal glass and plastic that is hurtling down the road. Hell, many drivers are too cheap or too stupid to even change their tires before they are completely worn and that is their only means of contact with the road surface.

My drivers education included training on dry, wet and frozen skid pad and gravel complete with obstacles (cones, Styrofoam pop outs and empty boxes). When you are doing your 120kph-0 braking test, a wall of boxes will get your adrenaline going even though you know it can't hurt you. I learned what it is like to drive on ice with all seasons vs snow and ice tires, I learned what it is like to drive on worn tires (scary as hell) vs middle of service life tires in the wet and dry.

The current drivers testing systems are an out-and-out joke and should be replaced with a driver training program, if you pass training, you can drive. If you can afford a $3,000-10,000 car, you can afford $600 worth of training. All of the countries with the best drivers (Germany, Finland, Sweeden, Spain) all have mandatory driver training in common.

Hell, the German government recently cited this training as the primary reason why the unlimited autobahns work so well. If you want to do away with speed limits (I would love to), first you have to bring the baseline skill levels up to where people can handle those speeds.

By maven81 on 5/21/2012 12:23:42 PM , Rating: 2
What you say is absolutely true. But there would also need to be a standardized system. Part of the problem is that different states have different quality testing. You can convert your out of state license (or even international license) to the current state's license without ever taking another test. That means that someone that got a license in a place where they ask you to drive around the block, can automatically get a license in say NYC where defensive driving is the rule not the exception. That should not be possible. You should be tested in the environment you're going to be exposed to.

By Samus on 5/21/2012 12:52:36 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder how they determine the cause of death is distracted driving when they're dead...

By kfonda on 5/21/2012 1:10:30 PM , Rating: 3
I wonder how they determine the cause of death is distracted driving when they're dead...

They used some of the stimulus money to set up a contract with "The Dionne Warwick Psychic Friends Network". Just wish they would have done it before the Solyndra deal. :-)

By Nfarce on 5/21/2012 1:32:29 PM , Rating: 1
You should be tested in the environment you're going to be exposed to.

That's half the problem with Atlanta drivers now. They get their license in a parking lot. They do not get out on the freeways driving 70+mph just to keep up with traffic (if you drive 55 around Atlanta's interstate freeways, you'll get mowed down...even in the right lane). If you live in a smaller town, "parking lot" licenses are fine and you can gradually learn on those two and divided four lane country roads (as many of us did growing up).

Many parents in ATL are spending the money to put their teens in a private driving school curriculum. Now those schools do get the students on the interstates and freeway speeds. One incentive for this is a reduction in insurance rates for said new driver that graduates from a certified driving school, which can offset the cost (in the state of GA anyway). It's a win-win.

By Reclaimer77 on 5/21/12, Rating: -1
By JediJeb on 5/21/2012 3:15:46 PM , Rating: 2
I will have to disagree with you on this one, though I often do agree with you on other things. That $600 fee would still be about half what it costs in many other countries to get a license and the testing/training here is terribly inadequate in most places. I know I learned how to drive by blasting around the fields in the old farm truck and could handle it better than most dirt track drivers by the time I got my license, but not many have that opportunity to learn handling in extreme conditions when learning to drive.

I also would not say it is a tiny minority that are problem drivers either. I have to put up with those ever day even here in a small town who think they are racing in the Daytona 500 just going through town to work in the mornings. One section is a turn lane on the right side that ends quickly, yet everyone tries to race up it and crowd in just to get a few spots ahead in the line. If they only realized as I do after watching them and timing it, that being total horse's you know whats cutting in front of everyone actually saves them at most 3 seconds through the lights in town. Too many drivers with the attitude that the road belongs to only them that causes so many problems.

By Reclaimer77 on 5/21/2012 3:36:55 PM , Rating: 2
Accident rates are steadily going down, so are crash fatalities and serious injury rates. Why now do we need to institute an arbitrary $600 "driver training" program?

So basically while adding millions more cars/drivers to our roads, we've also made DRAMATIC improvements in transportation safety. Statistically speaking, drivers have never been MORE competent and safe in this country than they are now.

Obviously in places like Germany I can see the merit in such a program. However in America, where the speed limit is usually 55 MPH, that kind of training is just unnecessary.

Too many drivers with the attitude that the road belongs to only them that causes so many problems.

Exactly. It's a social/attitude problem. We shouldn't be using Government mandated training to curb social behaviors. How would training people to drive on dirt, as you say, or snow or 120-0 KPH braking weed out aggressive driving behavior exactly? It's not.

It's just sad that every time someone observes a problem, or potential one, the first thing out of their mouths is a Government solution or a host of new laws. Enough already.

By JediJeb on 5/22/2012 5:54:08 PM , Rating: 2
I don't like increased regulations myself, I have to work under tons of them every day since my laboratory works in the environmental field and we have to put up with EPA regs. The problem is, if it is a social/attitude problem, how do we fix it?

By FITCamaro on 5/21/2012 7:03:33 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed that $600 is laughable.

But I do think that the majority of drivers in this country are largely incompetent. They get by because they're smart enough not to want to run into people and because there aren't enough cops to pull them over for every infraction.

By TheEinstein on 5/21/2012 12:39:36 PM , Rating: 2
Heh... scared drivers exist even in proffessional driver ranks.

I am a semi truck driver and I am not afraid. But just last night I passed another semi and when it was safe I pulled in front of him. He freaked out, went to the left lane and stayed there forcing two drivers to pass on his right.

But the scared car drivers make me laugh the most.

The other night a car would not let me pass.. kept speeding up significantly when I would catch up and try. Finally a three lane portion of the highway started and I was in the left lane he went to the right.

So I did what the law requires me to and moved to the center lane. I could not see his face, but I imagine his eyes bugged out as he starts grinding his breaks... lol... he was never in danger at all.

The real problem, as noted, is those drivers seeking a new hole. While agressive driving can save you time... it creates the problem for which it is the cure. When no one changes lanes traffic moves smooth. When people change lanes for advantage traffic recoils and slows.

Btw the NTISB and Ray LaHood having two opinions on hands free is 'bubble' floating. They want a full ban but they don't want a backlash. So they float a bubble to start the ball rolling. Eventually they want it, this is just stage one.

Btw for the record 5k deaths is acceptible to me so long as we keep it there for a reasonable cost to society. We can never end death and trying to do so will make s bankrupt. Death is always a sad thing... you cannot fix stupid (though you can vote him out!)

I eagerly await the day Ray LaHood is out of the Department of Transportation. I feel I need to eventually get the proper degrees (symbolically ofc) and be enough of a politician that I get appointed to the DoT just so I can fix the damage he has done.

By drycrust3 on 5/21/2012 5:27:22 PM , Rating: 2
Btw for the record 5k deaths is acceptible to me so long as we keep it there for a reasonable cost to society.

To me, this attitude is wrong. We should be aiming for a death toll of nil. Sure, it isn't going to happen this year, or next year, or this decade, but that is what we all should be aiming at.
Remember Deeming, the "car reliability" guy? He was the one that made the whole of the car industry produce reliable cars. When he started everyone told him he was crazy, that cars broke down and that was that, you couldn't change it or the cost would be too high. 40 years later, we buy reliable cars and we wouldn't accept anything but a reliable car.
The reason cars break down is largely because of parts having too looser tolerances, and what Deeming did was get all the components in a car built to tight tolerances.
The same needs to happen with our driving, we all need to get used to driving with tight tolerances. For example, if the speed limit is 50 km/hr, we should all be driving at that speed.
This is why speed cameras and red light cameras work and drink driving campaigns work: they pick out those who are driving outside of the standard deviation. These are the people that cause accidents.
There is no "silver bullet" to having a road toll of nil, rather there are lots of bits to the solution.
LaHood is absolutely right, your job when driving is to drive, not to fiddle with this or that.

By Schrag4 on 5/22/2012 1:32:14 AM , Rating: 2
To me, this attitude is wrong. We should be aiming for a death toll of nil. Sure, it isn't going to happen this year, or next year, or this decade, but that is what we all should be aiming at.

It'll never happen. Even if we completely automate cars so that there are no human factors involved in driving, mechanical, sensor, and/or software failures will cause fatal accidents. Furthermore, nobody is saying we shouldn't strive reduced fatalities. We're just saying that we acknowledge that zero is impossible, and at some point diminishing returns means that the number of lives saved is not worth the added expense. Let's pretend you and everyone else could pay an extra 5 dollars (let's say in taxes) to bring that number down to 2500 deaths. Would it be worth it? How about if another 25 bucks saved another 500 lives? Seems like a sweet deal to me, I mean it's only money! How about if another 100 dollars gets you another 50 lives? How can 50 lives not be worth 100 dollars to you, as an individual? That's only 2 dollars per life! The next 10 lives will cost you 500 bucks. Still worth it? The next 5 are 1000. Keep in mind, the number of deaths will still never be zero. You get the picture...

By 440sixpack on 5/21/2012 3:23:43 PM , Rating: 2
You almost get the impression that some people got their license just by being asked to drive in a circle.

That was very close to all I had to do (well it was on roads, but yeah, straight, turn, straight, turn, straight, turn, straight, turn, straight, three point turn and we're done). :-)

By nolisi on 5/21/2012 1:05:05 PM , Rating: 1
As bad as it sounds retesting drivers every 5 years should be put in place so that everyone is up on thier rules of the road skills.

Be careful- this sounds like government regulation and a waste of money. You're gonna piss off the tea party with talk like that.

They don't like things like government sponsored social responsibility, even if it'll create jobs and save lives. They'd rather let the free market solve the problem of social responsibility, cuz it has proven it can solve those problems.

By cruisin3style on 5/22/2012 5:23:15 PM , Rating: 2

Distracted drivers want to be distracted
By Schrag4 on 5/21/2012 11:04:43 AM , Rating: 2
You cannot legislate stupid out of people. You have many people who give their primary attention to keeping thier cars intact, no matter what distractions there may be, and you also have a few (but still too many) who don't take driving seriously. The latter will find ways to distract themselves no matter what you try to ban. Distracted driving is nothing new. Before cell phones, people would do all kinds of stupid things while they drive. IMO, the answer isn't to ban dangerous behavior altogether, it's to punish it severly when it results in an accident.

I once saw someone driving on the interstate at 75 MPH in moderate traffic who was balancing their checkbook. I'm sure many of you have seen much worse. Does that mean we need a ban on balancing checkbooks to help guide our behavior? IMO, no, an emphasis on personal responsibility is a better approach. The nanny-state approach implies that if there's not a law banning something then people cannot be held responsible for behaving irresponsibly.

RE: Distracted drivers want to be distracted
By chmilz on 5/21/2012 12:49:41 PM , Rating: 2
I would consider myself a good, attentive driver. I don't use my phone. I don't fiddle with things. I pull over to accomplish any task that will disengage me from driving.

However, I recently got a new vehicle with a touch screen infotainment center and no matter how hard I try, I find myself being distracted. It's a well designed system, everything is only a couple touches away, but no matter how simple it is it's impossible to turn on the heated seats without looking at it. There's tons of little things I can't do without looking at the screen, that I could previously do by hitting a tactile button without looking.

Maybe voice commands will change this, but I'd rather just have buttons.

By JediJeb on 5/21/2012 3:38:51 PM , Rating: 2
Buttons you know by the feel to me are the best, since once you know how they feel you can do most any adjustment without ever taking your eyes off the road. Just another thing I hate to think about if I ever get another vehicle, after 16 years driving the same one, I know exactly where everything is without ever having to look.

By Schrag4 on 5/22/2012 1:19:39 AM , Rating: 2
You'll learn how to quickly push those buttons without taking your eyes off the road for longer than a split second. I'm not worried about you. I had the same problem with I recently got a new (to me) vehicle. The cruise control buttons were on the opposite side of the steering wheel and the radio worked differently. Took me a week or two to get used to the differences - old habits die hard. BUT, I made a decision that anything that I couldn't figure out in a short glance would just have to wait until I'm stopped. It's a decision we all have to make. Some people will gamble with their lives (and others) to get their favorite tunes going or reply to a text, I choose not to.

It's OK to take your eyes off the road for a split second to turn on heated seats or change the radio station or check the clock, the speedometer, to do whatever, really. Just pick the right split second to do it. If you're doing 70 MPH in heavy traffic (following another vehicle closely), probably not the best time. If you can see no cars 10 seconds ahead of you and no place for people/animals/whatever to pop out of, take a whole second to turn on those seats - even two seconds! I'm sure you'll figure it out, and I'm sure you don't need a law to tell you how long you can take your eyes off the road. I'm just as sure somewhere, someone wishes there was such a law, you know, for the children and all :-\

driver's test
By ssobol on 5/21/2012 11:25:36 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know if this is still true, but when I was in college years ago I had a professor who was from Finland. He was amazed at how easy it was to get a driver's license in the states. He said in Finland you needed much more training than you get in the US to get a driver's license. He said the the driver's license training in Finland was comparable to what was required for a private pilot's license in the US.

In the state where I live, you do not even have to know how to the English language to get a license. If you can't speak, read, or write English you are allowed to bring a translator. The test is also offered in Spanish.

RE: driver's test
By Dr of crap on 5/21/2012 12:11:44 PM , Rating: 2
Well, you wouldn't want to be called rastist for NOT allowing a ESL person from driving now would you?

RE: driver's test
By JediJeb on 5/21/2012 3:42:01 PM , Rating: 2
I heard in Finland you have at least three sessions on a water filled skidpad learning how to handle your vehicle when it skids out of control, if you don't pass that you don't get your license.

Of course over there rally racing is a passtime that rivals most any other sports in the rest of the world.

seriosly, just STFU
By retrospooty on 5/21/12, Rating: 0
RE: seriosly, just STFU
By Reclaimer77 on 5/21/2012 2:24:28 PM , Rating: 2
I'll drink to that!

We're in a freaking spending crisis with a looming debt/inflation crisis right around the corner, and these idiots are worried about what's in our cars, what baseball players are injecting themselves with, and all kinds of other nonsense.

RE: seriosly, just STFU
By ritualm on 5/21/2012 10:01:15 PM , Rating: 2
What spending crisis? What looming debt/inflation crisis?

As far as central bankers are concerned, the ballooning national debt is merely a pretext to a single world government system - and we're getting there.

mis-stated statistics
By docinct on 5/21/2012 12:05:40 PM , Rating: 2
It would be nice if the author got the statistics right.
There were "There were about 3,092 deaths in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2010" NOT 3,092 crashes. The number represents just under 10% of the fatal crashes. This number was down from previous years.
People drive distracted for all sorts of reasons, including holding conversations with passengers, something that is evident in a large number of TV shows.

RE: mis-stated statistics
By name99 on 5/21/2012 3:42:59 PM , Rating: 2
This was precisely my feeling when I saw this statistic --- how many of these distractions were due to electronics as opposed to fighting children, crying babies, feeling up the person in the passenger seat, eating, etc.

I have no idea, and no strong opinions on the subject; but I AM angered when I see people trying to pull a fast one by using a statistic representing one sort of behavior to imply a different sort of behavior.

Auto makers have learned...
By Beenthere on 5/21/2012 12:07:48 PM , Rating: 2
...that consumers are more intested in gimmicks than engineering so they provide what the clueless masses desire.

RE: Auto makers have learned...
By ritualm on 5/21/2012 7:17:06 PM , Rating: 2
Watching porn or having sex inside the car while driving is not a distraction, unlike government claims to the contrary.

By rdhood on 5/21/2012 4:27:11 PM , Rating: 3
When I get pissed off at telephone drivers, I do a quick poll. You know, sit at a traffic light, watch the traffic turning in front of me, count the number on telephones. In city traffic at rush hour, appx 50% (yes, fifty percent) of drivers are on the phone while they drive.

On the highway, the numbers are lower but still significant... about 20% of drivers are on the phone.

This doesn't even touch those that are texting while driving... only those holding a phone up to their ears.

In our area, a favorite thing for on-the-phone drivers to do is to get in the left hand lane and do 5mph under the speed limit. At that rate of travel, they never have to brake (they are going slower than overtaking traffic). So they get in the left hand lane and sit and talk until they need to get off at their exit. Of course, the REST of traffic has to make a pass in the right hand lane(s) .

I have NEVER seen a person get a ticket for slow traffic in the left hand lane. It simply never happens.

Mother knows best
By knutjb on 5/21/2012 10:31:01 PM , Rating: 2
Automakers are able to do this despite the guidelines that LaHood proposed because the guidelines have not recommended exact limits on in-vehicle devices. LaHood isn't looking to cut technology out of vehicles completely,

Good thing the politicians know best...I might buy a car with features I want.

Distracted Driving Tools
By MIAmobi on 5/22/2012 7:48:02 PM , Rating: 2
The National Transportation Safety Board asked gadget makers to add new features to their devices that encourage people to stop using portable electronic devices while driving.
MIAmobi™ provides a tool to help not only teens but everyone from being distracted by cell phones. One of these tools is the SilentPocket. By using a SilentPocket™ “It will help save lives” Out site out of mind. Helps prevent texting and driving because your Voicemail, rings, beeps, blings and vibes will not be heard. Any Voicemail, Texts and email that were sent will be received once the device is taken out of the SilentPocket. Get informed at MIA-mobi

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