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NHTSA Proposes Driver Distraction Guidelines

The proposed guidelines for vehicle manufacturers are directed at electronic devices that are deemed as not necessary for the safe operation of a vehicle.

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The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed guidelines to help reduce the distraction of in-vehicle electronic devices on drivers.

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The proposed guidelines for vehicle manufacturers are directed at electronic devices that are deemed as not necessary for the safe operation of a vehicle, including devices for communications, entertainment, information gathering and navigation. NHTSA said the guidelines are for electronic devices installed in vehicles that require visual or manual operation.  

According to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, "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. 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 are geared toward standard passenger vehicles – cars and light trucks under 10,000 pounds GVW – and are the first guidance NHTSA plans to release regarding distracted driving.
 
The proposed Phase I distraction guidelines include recommendations to:

• Reduce complexity and task length required by the device

• Limit device operation to one hand only (leaving the other hand to remain on the steering wheel to control the vehicle)

• Limit individual off-road glances required for device operation to no more than two seconds in duration

• Limit unnecessary visual information in the driver’s field of view

• Limit the amount of manual inputs required for device operation
 
NHTSA is currently considering Phase II guidelines that would include those devices or systems not built into a vehicle, which could include aftermarket and portable personal electronic devices such as navigation systems, smartphones, electronic tablets and pads, among other mobile communications devices.

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Phase III guidelines could address voice-activated controls to further minimize distraction in factory-installed, aftermarket and portable devices.

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