Senator Pushes for Regulations To Control Distracting In-Car Mobile Technology


  • Distracted Driving Picture

    Distracted Driving Picture

    A U.S. senator wants standards for in-car technology use to cut down on distracted driving. | February 07, 2014

Just the Facts:
  • U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller wants to regulate in-car use of mobile phones and Internet entertainment systems, saying that he wants to spur "existing or new technology that will encourage drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes and minds focused on the road."
  • Rockefeller convened a summit entitled "Over-Connected and Behind the Wheel: A Summit on Technological Solutions to Distracted Driving" on Thursday to discuss the issue.
  • "I see no reason drivers should be able to update their social-media profiles or compare restaurant and hotel reviews while behind the wheel," Rockefeller said in a statement.

WASHINGTON — Calling the growing use of in-car mobile devices a "fatal vice," U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller on Thursday said he wants to regulate the use of such systems to cut down on distracted driving.

Rockefeller, the Senate Commerce Committee chairman, said he wants to spur automakers and suppliers to come up with "technological solutions to distracted driving." He decried the "glut of nonessential technology that has nothing to do with the task of driving."

The West Virginia Democrat contends that too much attention is paid to providing drivers with the features and connectivity they get on their smartphones.

"We are all aware that distracted driving is unsafe but so many of us, including myself, are tempted to use our phones while we are driving," Rockefeller said in a posting on his Facebook page. "My hope is that we can spur existing or new technology that will encourage drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes and minds focused on the road."

Rockefeller convened a summit entitled "Over-Connected and Behind the Wheel: A Summit on Technological Solutions to Distracted Driving" on Thursday to discuss the issue.

"I see no reason drivers should be able to update their social-media profiles or compare restaurant and hotel reviews while behind the wheel," Rockefeller said in a statement.
He added: "Perhaps we should be looking to limit the functionality of mobile and built-in technologies, rather than accommodate them."

About 9 million infotainment systems will be shipped this year in vehicles sold worldwide, according to industry reports.

An industry group told Rockefeller that it is only responding to the demands of car shoppers.

"Automakers have been working to mitigate distraction in vehicles since we developed the first set of distraction guidelines in 2003," said the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers in a statement.

"But today's consumers insist on connectivity at all times and, even while driving, routinely use a variety of portable devices that are not subject to any guidelines or standards. It's essential that we advance policies that address the spectrum of potential distractions and do not inadvertently drive more unsafe behavior."

In 2012 alone, 3,328 were killed in distracted-driving crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Edmunds says: Rockefeller warned automakers and suppliers that if they don't regulate distracting systems in cars, legislators will do it for them.

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