DOT Secretary Ray LaHood Has Released a “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving”
Automakers are facing a government good cop / bad cop drama over efforts to curb distracting driving. While Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is seeking for voluntary action by automakers to address the problem, the National Highway Traffic Administration is threatening to seek legislation to make cell phone use and texting while driving illegal and mandating what automakers can build into their vehicles.
Secretary LaHood has released a featuring a grant to the states of California and Delaware to improve enforcement of state laws. The ‘Blueprint’ was issued after consultation with automakers who expressed their commitment to safety. The Secretary’s plan does not include additional regulations – at least for now. Instead it calls on states without distracted driving laws to enact them, and for other states to increase law enforcement.
NHTSA is taking a more hard-line approach, studying new regulations that would require automakers to develop systems that would disable certain apps when vehicles are in motion. Some in the agency want Congress to pass legislation to make all cell phone use and texting in cars and trucks illegal. Automakers, through the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, have already expressed their strong opposition to such actions.
Federal regulators are struggling to keep up with evolving technology and issuing regulations to address changes. Automakers are struggling to meet customer demand for vehicle connectivity while keeping them safe. Constantly changing rules and regulations makes this task difficult.