Monday, 27 February 2012 18:44

NHTSA Announces Proposed Driver Distraction Guidelines for In-Vehicle Electronic Devices

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed guidelines on Feb 27 for vehicle manufacturers to help reduce the distraction of in-vehicle electronic devices. The proposed guidelines are designed for electronic devices that do not take part in safely operating the vehicle. For example, devices used for communications, entertainment, information gathering and navigation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) guidelines are recommendations 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 vehicles not weighing more than 10,000 lbs, and are a first in a series of guidance documents 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 for the future that would include devices or systems not built into the vehicle. This would include aftermarket and portable personal electronic devices such as navigation systems, smart phones, electronic tablets and pads, among other mobile communications devices. More proposed guidelines (Phase III) could address voice-activated controls to further minimize distraction in factory-installed, aftermarket and portable devices.

To view the Federal Register’s publication of the NHTSA Driver Distraction for In-Vehicles Electronic Devices Guidelines, visit ASA’s legislative website at www.TakingTheHill.com.

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