The U.S. Department of Transportation on Thursday released the first potential federal guidelines aimed at enticing automakers to reduce potential distractions for drivers in cars.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the voluntary guidelines would be enforced in areas of in-car electronics, entertainment communications and navigation systems that are not necessary for a vehicle's operation.
Distracted driving is a dangerous and deadly habit on America's roadways - that's why I've made it a priority to encourage people to stay focused behind the wheel, LaHood said. These guidelines are a major step forward in identifying real solutions to tackle the issue of distracted driving for drivers of all ages.
The guidelines, issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, would establish specific criteria for electronic devices implanted in vehicles during their manufacture. The guidelines follow the 2013 budget of President Barack Obama, which asks for $330 million over six years to increase awareness of distracted driving and initiate measures that encourage automakers to comply.
We have been on a crusade for more than three years, LaHood said at a news conference in Washington Thursday morning. LaHood said distracted driving is unsafe, irresponsible and can have devastating consequences, noting that more it had caused more than 3,000 deaths from crashes in 2010.
Some of the guidelines including reducing the complexity of devices, limiting device operation to one hand only, an limiting unnecessary visual information in the driver's line of vision. The guidelines also propose disabling text messaging, internet and social media browsing, phone dialing and navigation system address entry in these devices.
The NHTSA said it may consider future suggestions or guidelines to combat portable or after-market electronics.
We recognize that vehicle manufacturers want to build vehicles that include the tools and conveniences expected by today's American drivers, NHTSA administrator David Strickland said. The guidelines we're proposing would offer real-world guidance to automakers to help them develop electronic devices that provide features consumers want-without disrupting a driver's attention or sacrificing safety.
The NHTSA will hold hearings on these guidelines in March in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington.