Government sets guidelines to minimize in-vehicle distractions

Earlier this week, a study was released that found that hands-free texting was just as dangerous as manual texting. Now the federal government is taking more steps to crack down on distracted drivers.

It’s easy to get distracted by all the devices in our vehicles. Your GPS is talking to you. You have to change the song on your stereo. Your smartphone is chirping at you every time you get a new social media notification. But all these devices can be deadly because they take your attention off the road, where it needs to be.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has issued distraction guidelines that ask carmakers to put stronger limits on how long drivers can use in-car electronic devices, including entertainment and navigation devices.

The guidelines include recommendations to limit the amount of time it takes a driver to perform a single function on the car’s audio/visual systems to two seconds.

The guidelines recommend that in-car electronic devices automatically have certain functions disabled unless the vehicle is in park, including:

  • Manual text entry for the purpose of text messaging and Internet browsing
  • Video-based entertainment and communications like video calling
  • Display of certain types of text, including text messages, web pages or social media content

The guidelines would be phased in over the next three years, giving carmakers time to rework their electronic navigation and entertainment systems.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s research has discovered that the visual-manual tasks increase the risk of being in an accident by three times. This includes the cell phone, but also factory-installed navigation systems and other screens. The cell phone is still the most dangerous screen, requiring 23.3 seconds to send a text message.

The NHTSA study also found that using a cell phone while driving increases the risk by 173 percent. Hands-free kits do not prevent distracted driving either, because they require a manual-visual interaction at least 50 percent of the time.

These new suggested guidelines from the NHTSA are a great step. However, in the end, it all comes down to personal responsibility. Each individual driver must make the choice to be a safe driver and to not let themselves be distracted by the electronic devices in their vehicles.

If you or a loved one have been injured by a distracted driver, you need an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our free online consultation form.

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