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The federal government is coming after your navigation apps

The distracted driving debate is about to get a bit more interesting, as The New York Times is reporting that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is looking to step in and start regulating all in-car navigation devices -- including smartphone navigation apps that millions of Americans use on a daily basis.
 
A new bill proposal would give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the authority to set guidelines for how smartphone apps provide in-car navigation services to drivers. The NHTSA is concerned that users can become distracted when using the current generation of apps, and that such apps should be regulated if further study determines them to be an actual “dangerous” distraction.
 
The proposed regulations would encompass popular navigation apps like Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Waze.


Google Maps
 
Representatives for technology companies are already balking at the proposed legislation. “They don’t have enough software engineers,” said Catherine McCullough, executive director of the Intelligent Car Coalition. “They don’t have the budget or the structure to oversee both Silicon Valley and the auto industry.”
 
Not surprisingly, automobile manufacturers are fully behind the government on this proposal, as many already voluntarily adhere to strict guidelines regarding distracted driving (this is why navigation-equipped vehicles pop up a warning screen when you start of the vehicle, or lock you out from entering in a new destination or changing a waypoint while the vehicle is in motion).
 
Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, added, “We believe that if you’re looking at a smaller screen, that’s less effective than looking at a larger screen on the dashboard.”
 
Auto manufacturers would also love to see the playing field leveled, as more and more drivers are forgoing navigation packages on vehicles -- which can run into the thousands of dollars -- in favor of their smartphones. And there’s also the fact that smartphone navigation apps and maps are updated much more frequently than in-car navigation systems (and who wants to pay $100 for a map update DVD) and provide a greater feature set than even the most advanced in-car systems can muster.

Source: The New York Times





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