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NHTSA Announces Distracted Driving Guidelines

“Voluntary” rules meant to keep drivers’ eyes on the road.

by on Apr.24, 2013

U.S. Sec. of Transportation Ray LaHood.

Battling against a distracted driving “epidemic” blamed for causing more than 10% of all U.S. highway fatalities, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has unveiled new voluntary guidelines meant to keep driver’s eyes on the road rather than on smartphones and in-car devices displaying text messages and Web content.

The guidelines are meant to limit the amount of time drivers look away from the road even when doing mundane tasks like changing radio stations or checking onboard navigation directions. The proposal appears to take particular aim at text messaging and posting to social media sites like Facebook.

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Among the proposals, NHTSA would like to see the industry to find ways to block motorists from texting while behind the wheel.

According to NHTSA, motorists should not need to take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds at a time – and since some functions require paging through multiple screens, no task should take more than 12 seconds, according to the nation’s top auto safety regulators.


Automakers Argue Portable Cellphones, GPS Can Also Distract

Auto industry wants smartphone and portable GPS makers covered by new distracted driving rules.

by on Mar.12, 2012

Government data reveals that while highway fatalities are declining, distracted driving deaths have been rising.

New federal guidelines could soon put strict limits in place on the use of high-tech infotainment systems – but are the proposed rules missing some of the most blatant contributors to distracted driving?

That’s a point that several automakers plan to raise during hearings today that are expected to help define new rules aimed at limiting distracted driving.  The rules under study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would impact technology such as the Ford Sync system and Toyota’s EnForm, but manufacturers argue that the new guidelines should also include portable devices brought into a vehicle.

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“Our idea is that people should not be distracted by anything,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

U.S. highway fatalities fell to their lowest level ever last year when adjusted to reflect the ever increasing number of miles driven by American motorists.  But the good news was tempered by the fact that federal data showed one of every 11 highway fatalities came as the result of texting, cellphoning or some other form of distracted driving.