Feds Push To Restrict Vehicle Technology To Curb Distracted Driving


  • Distracted Driving Picture

    Distracted Driving Picture

    New federal guidelines would discourage automakers from installing distracting devices in cars and trucks. | April 24, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • New federal guidelines released on Tuesday aim to curb distracted driving by discouraging automakers from installing devices that allow drivers to text message or browse the Internet from behind the wheel.
  • The guidelines recommend against vehicle technology that displays Web page content and text messages.
  • But the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers warns that "limiting built-in systems without simultaneously addressing portable devices" could force drivers to choose more unsafe behavior with hand-held phones.

WASHINGTON — New federal guidelines released on Tuesday aim to curb distracted driving by discouraging automakers from installing devices that allow drivers to text message or browse the Internet from behind the wheel.

The guidelines recommend against vehicle technology that displays Web page content and text messages.

But the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers warns that "limiting built-in systems without simultaneously addressing portable devices" could force drivers to choose more unsafe behavior with hand-held phones.

"That would be a troubling outcome, given the (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) finding announced today that visual-manual tasks associated with hand-held phones and other portable devices increase crash risk by three times," the alliance said in a statement.

The alliance is calling for federal safety regulators to "move quickly with a more comprehensive approach including mobile devices." The alliance represents Detroit's automakers, along with Volkswagen, Toyota and others.

The new federal guidelines for automakers are voluntary.

"Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic that has devastating consequences on our nation's roadways," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement posted on the NHTSA Web site. "These guidelines recognize that today's drivers appreciate technology, while providing automakers with a way to balance the innovation consumers want with the safety we all need. Combined with good laws, good enforcement and good education, these guidelines can save lives."

The guidelines are based on a new NHTSA study on distracted driving. The study found text messaging, browsing and dialing resulted in the longest duration of drivers taking their eyes off the road. The study did not find a direct increased crash risk from the specific act of talking on a cell phone.

Edmunds says: NHTSA has not yet issued guidelines addressing cell phone manufacturers, which appears to be a gaping hole in the new guidelines.

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