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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.