Car Devices Get Federal Safety Rules

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NHTSA Distracted Driving


The U.S. government issued rules Tuesday to guide the design of navigation and other devices in new cars.

The rules are voluntary guidelines, and recommend that in-car device do not require the driver to take his eyes off the road for more than 2 seconds at a time, and 12 seconds total.

The recommendations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also call for fully disabling certain operations unless the car is stopped including:

  • Manual text entry for the purposes of text messaging and internet browsing;
  • Video-based entertainment and communications like video phoning or video conferencing;
  • Display of certain types of text, including text messages, web pages, social media content.

NHTSA is also considering issuing a second round of recommendations for aftermarket devices it said in its Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving.  It would cover “portable devices not built into the vehicle, including aftermarket GPS navigation systems, smart phones, electronic tablets and pads, and other mobile commu­nications devices.”

“The new study strongly suggests that visual-manual tasks can degrade a driver’s focus and increase the risk of getting into a crash up to three times,” said David Strickland, NHTSA Administrator.

The most distracting tasks were found to be text messaging, browsing, and dialing in a study of 3,000 drivers.  Text messaging doubled the risk of a crash or near-crash and resulted in the driver taking his eyes off the road for f 23.3 seconds total. The act of making a phone call including reaching for a phone, finding a contact and dialing increased the crash/near-crash risk by three times.

Simply talking on a phone does not increase the risk of a crash, the study found, but the manual and visual interactions with a phone increases the risk of a crash by 1.7 times.  NHTSA said even in-vehicle hands-free cell phone use was found to involve visual-manual tasks at least half the time.

Source: NHTSA

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