NHTSA Offers Distraction-Limiting Guidelines for Automakers
Earlier this month we reported that at the Detroit Auto Show automakers unveiled new car safety features and hands-free and voice-activated cell phone technology to limit driver distractions. With these latest enhancements, the car manufacturers may be one step ahead of the government. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced last week that it has established the first-ever guidelines for automakers to eliminate drivers’ distractions.
The recommendations are aimed at encouraging manufacturers to develop “less distracting” in-vehicle electronic devices. Our Binghamton auto accident attorneys encourage New York drivers to heed the government recommendations and to remove distractions from your car when traveling our highways.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued these guidelines as Phase I in their multi-phased approach in tackling driver distractions. The first phase voluntary recommendations focus on criteria that manufacturers can use to ensure the systems or devices they provide in their vehicles are less likely to distract the driver with tasks not directly relevant to safely operating the vehicle.
According to an article in USA Today, these features are referred to as “infotainment functions.” The government requests car manufacturers to disable functions that allow drivers to text message, browse the Internet, look at social media accounts or manually enter addresses or phone numbers into GPS devices or cell phones unless the car is stopped and in park.
The proposed NHTSA distraction guidelines include recommendations to:
- Reduce complexity and task length required by the device;
- Limit device operation to one hand only (leaving the other hand to remain on the steering wheel to control the vehicle);
- Limit individual off-road glances required for device operation to no more than two seconds in duration;
- Limit unnecessary visual information in the driver’s field of view;
- Limit the amount of manual inputs required for device operation.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), nearly one-fourth of all crashes, or approximately 1.3 million auto accidents each year, can be attributed to cell phone use while driving. The NSC also found that distractions now join alcohol and speeding as leading factors in all automobile accidents.
“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 Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Our Binghamton personal injury lawyers applaud the government for taking an active role in asking automakers to limit distracting gadgets in cars and to help keep our NY drivers safe. We recognize, however, that each driver is responsible for their own safety when it comes to eliminating distractions while driving. Please focus on the task at hand when driving, and put your cell phone and other distractions aside.
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