currently set their limits on what drivers can do behind the wheel many won't let drivers input an address into a vehicle navigation system while in motion. Ford, for example, has guidelines that bar video, any games and text heavy applications to avoid distracting drivers.
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In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,267 in 2010, NHTSA says. Another 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.
NHTSA's guidelines would limit device operation to one hand, leaving the other hand to remain on the steering wheel; limit individual off road glances required for device operation to no more than two seconds; limit unnecessary visual information in the driver's field of view; and limit manual inputs required for device operation, among other proposals.
Washington National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief said the Obama administration will keep up the fight against distracted driving after the departure of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
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In 2011, LaHood said the agency wouldn't call for restrictions on hands free cell phones or in vehicle systems, such as Ford Motor Co.'s Sync, until the government conducts further research.
A spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Gloria Bergquist, said the trade group representing Detroit's Big Three automakers, Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen AG and other automakers, plans to meet with White House Office of Management and Budget officials on the guidelines before they are finalized.
will continue distracted driving fight
LaHood has made cracking down on distracted driving a big issue and urged drivers to not text or make hand held calls behind the wheel and held a number of summits and meetings on the issues.
"If government policy restricts in vehicle technology designed for the driving environment, drivers may continue peering down at the small screens on handheld phones never intended to be used while behind the wheel," she said. "For instance, restrictions on 'dynamic' navigation of in vehicle systems would mean a driver would no longer see a continuously changing map while driving. Instead, the driver would see a Zanotti Footwear sequence of static map displays with frequent delays so the driver may miss his turn. As a result, drivers may use handheld phones as dynamic navigation systems instead."
NHTSA first proposed voluntary in vehicle distraction guidelines in February 2012. The final proposal is still under interagency review.
under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.
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But Strickland said the final rules will have some changes over the draft guidelines.
could push more tasks to cellphones. "The appeal of smartphones, with their endless ability to perform tasks, will rise an unintended consequence with ramifications," she said. "Handheld devices are not addressed at all. While restricting built in technology designed for moving vehicles, the government guidelines are silent regarding handheld phones, when a comprehensive approach really is required."
Strickland said NHTSA is "very, very close to finalizing voluntary in vehicle guidelines to help automakers prevent distracted driving behind the wheel.
"We're going to work on the cognitive part of this problem. We're doing a study," LaHood told reporters in March 2011. "We base our solutions on data and before I, or anyone else, gets up and starts talking about 'hands free this' or 'hands free that,' or Sync or whatever, we want to have good data to back it up."
Strickland said NHTSA could one day have a national program to address distracted driving like impaired driving and seat belt use, praising the "secretary's energy and leadership" for moving the national dialogue.
Automakers still have questions about the new guidelines.
"It is a part of the NHTSA portfolio it will always be part of the NHTSA portfolio," NHTSA chief David Strickland told reporters after a speech in Washington. "I think the secretary's attention and focus and work . has pulled along so many states into making changes."
In 2010 and 2011, he met or called the CEOs of nearly every major automaker to discuss the issue, urging them to limit in vehicle electronics, including Ford's Alan Mulally, GM's Dan Akerson and Chrysler's Sergio Marchionne.
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