First-Ever 'Distracted Driving' Guidelines Issued by NHTSA
February 17, 2012 9:55 AM
Automakers would have to rethink the kind of electronic devices and the number of these devices used within a vehicle
The first guidelines for
reducing distracted driving
were proposed by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood yesterday, where automakers would be challenged to cut the number of in-vehicle entertainment and information electronics.
"Distracted driving is a dangerous and deadly habit on America's roadways -- that's why I've made it a priority to encourage people to stay focused behind the wheel," said LaHood. "These guidelines are a major step forward in identifying real solutions to tackle the issue of distracted driving for drivers of all ages."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued the new guidelines, which are the very first of their kind. They aim to offer recommended criteria for the kind of electronic devices and the number of these devices used within a vehicle.
The proposed guidelines are currently in Phase l, which applies to light vehicles like cars, pickup trucks, minivans and SUVs. Phase l recommends guidelines that help automakers use electronics that are less likely to distract the driver with tasks that are not associated with the operation of the vehicle, and the use of electronics that won't require the driver's sight and touch for long periods of time.
The exact guidelines for Phase l include the following: reduce complexity and task length required by the device; limit individual off-road glances required for device operation to no more than two seconds in duration; limit device operation to one hand only; limit the amount of manual inputs required for device operation, and limit unnecessary visual information in the driver's field of view.
The Phase l guidelines also recommend that certain in-vehicle features be disabled to the driver, except when the car is in park: visual-manual text messaging; visual-manual social media browsing; visual-manual Internet browsing; visual-manual
10-digit phone dialing
; visual-manual navigation system destination entry by address, and the display of more than 30 characters of text to the driver that is unrelated to driving the vehicle.
NHTSA is already looking ahead to Phase ll and Phase lll guidelines, which will take an in-depth look at electronics that are distractions in vehicles, yet not part of the vehicles, like smartphones and tablets. Phase lll is expected to look into voice-activated controls.
LaHood is known for his support for ridding distracted driving, but said he isn't looking to ban electronics in vehicles entirely. Back in December 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
pushed for a ban on hands-free calls while driving
in order to reduce distracted driving, and LaHood said he wouldn't back it.
United States Department of Transportation
"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins
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