DOT, NHTSA Urge Automakers To Stop Distracted Driving

Distracted DrivingIt is not only the drivers who should observe distraction guidelines, automobile manufacturers also have to do their part. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently issued guidelines to minimize vehicle distractions. LaHood has encouraged automakers to limit the distraction risk associated with the electronic devices built into their vehicles, especially those which are used for navigation, communication and entertainment.

Related: Smart Phone Apps to Stop Texting while Driving

Guidelines to reduce distracted driving
The guidelines created by the U.S. DOT (Department of Transportation) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) include the following:

  • Limiting the time a driver must take their eyes off the road.
  • Disabling several operations, unless the vehicle is stopped or in park, particularly manual text entry, video-based entertainment and communications and display of certain types of text.
  • List of certain secondary tasks believed by NHTSA to interfere inherently with a driver’s ability to safely operate and control the vehicle. These include: entering or displaying text messages, displaying video or automatically scrolling text.
  • Recommendations for in-vehicle devices designed to limit and reduce their potential for distraction.

According to NHTSA, these guidelines were based on the following principles:

  • The driver’s eyes must be looking at the road ahead.
  • The driver has to keep at least one hand on the steering wheel while doing a secondary task.
  • The distraction induced by any secondary task performed while driving must not exceed that associated with a baseline reference task.
  • Any task done by a driver should be interruptible at any time.
  • The driver should be the one controlling the pace of task interactions and not the system or device.
  • Displays have to be easy for the driver to look at and content presented must be clear and apparent.

A work in progress
These guidelines are currently in Phase I. This means that the guidelines are only applicable to light vehicles and not for vehicles that are operated for law enforcement, ambulance, military, firefighting or other emergency uses. They are working on developing guidelines for those vehicles.

Related: "No-Phone Zone" In Kentucky Is Taking Off

As a Kentucky Accident Attorney, I am concerned about the tragic effects of distracted driving. In 2010, around 899,000 road accidents involved driver distraction. From this figure, 3% were caused by a device or control integral to the vehicle. We need to step up to limit and stop distracted driving injuries and deaths. These new guidelines could definitely be one way to do it.

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