The U.S. Department of Transportation has encouraged automakers to design devices that would block the use of mobile devices while a vehicle is moving. The plan extends to texting, the dialing of 10-digit phone numbers, the keying in of address on GPS systems, etc., unless the car is in park.
On these non-binding guidelines issued today, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, on a conference call with reporters, stated that, “distracted driving is unsafe, irresponsible and can have devastating consequences. Every single time a driver takes his or her focus off the road, the driver puts his or her life and the lives of others at risk.” In 2010, roughly 3,000 drivers, or 9.4 percent of road fatalities, were killed in crashes related to distraction, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
David Strickland, NHTSA administrator, says the DOT will expect full compliance from automakers, but will seek input from the car companies before making any new regulations final. Strickland’s list of potential new requirements for devices used in cars allow usage with one hand, leaving the other on the steering wheel, limit how long drivers’ eyes are off the road to two seconds or less, limit “unnecessary visual information” in the driver’s field of view and limit the number of manual inputs required for various operations, as noted in the Chicago Tribune.
There will be a 29% increase in the number or new cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. in 2012 that are fitted with smartphones and other connectivity units, which is in conflict with the plans of the DOT, according to Just-Auto. Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, states, “we particularly like the guideline for disabling devices that text and surf the Internet, etc.” in an email to press. Automakers haven’t calculated what costs might be involved, she added. Strickland went on to state that regulators didn’t look at costs because it’s a voluntary guideline rather than a rule. It has been reported that there isn’t much by way of public support for bans on devices while driving.