Faced with an “epidemic” of distractions while driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has unveiled new voluntary guidelines.
Find out what proposals and warnings the NHTSA sets out.
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.
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.
“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,” said Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
Meanwhile, the industry trade group the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers issued a statement saysing that “NHTSA and automakers share the same goal: drivers need to keep their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and connect their mobile phones to the built-in car systems.”
Nonetheless, the auto industry cautions that it should not take the heat for a problem that isn’t limited to smartphones and hard-to-use navigation systems.
The new voluntary guidelines are nonetheless likely to be taken seriously by automakers as they could still be cited by plaintiff attorneys who take on a manufacturer in a wrongful death or injury lawsuit.