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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 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...

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