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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 Reclaimer77 on 5/21/2012 2:20:43 PM , Rating: -1
Can we just acknowledge that the vast majority of drivers in this country are competent and a tiny minority are causing problems?

Your idea is like saying throw everyone in jail so we can see what it's like. I don't need to go through rigorous drivers training, so why should I have to?

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.

LOL oh man that's the funniest thing I've read all day. Piss away $600 more dollars to the state DMV or whoever so I can take "training"? No, no thank you. Another slush fund to be abused, with questionable public benefit.

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.

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