U.S. Safety Agency Announces Distraction Guidelines for Carmakers

Since distracted-driving car accidents are a common occurrence in Indiana and elsewhere across the country, the U.S. Department of Transportation is taking action regarding in-vehicle electronic devices installed by car manufacturers in new cars. The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently announced new guidelines that would limit the distraction risk caused by in-vehicle electronic devices.

In-vehicle electronic devices generally refer to cellphone, GPS, video and audio systems that are not required for a driver to safely operate a vehicle. Often the devices are located in the dashboards of vehicles.

The proposed guidelines address the functionality of these systems and aim to address the use of drivers’ hands and eyes to manipulate the systems. The Department of Transportation is concerned with the increasing installation of the systems and does not want the functionality of the systems to take away from the primary task of driving. Warning systems like forward-collision and lane departure alerts are not subject to the NHTSA’s guidelines.

The proposed guidelines are directed towards light, non-commercial vehicles like cars, pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans, since drivers of commercial vehicles abide by different and more stringent driving regulations. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a Department press release the guidelines are the first attempt to solve the distracted driving issue among all ages of drivers. If the guidelines go into effect, hopefully the rules will reduce the number of distracted driving accidents in Indiana.

To reduce the risk of distraction and related accidents, the distraction guidelines recommend that automakers create simpler protocols for the operation of the in-vehicle electronic devices. The Department also recommends that tasks only require the use of, at most, one hand to operate. The tasks necessary to operate in-vehicle electronic devices must not require drivers to view the interface for more than two seconds. In tandem, the interface of the devices must also limit any extraneous visual information. Finally, according to the NHTSA’s website, the Department recommends manufacturers to “limit the amount of manual inputs required for device operation.”

The Department of Transportation is also considering Phase II and Phase III recommendations that would respectively address electronic devices and systems not built into vehicles, as well as voice-activated controls.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a distracted-driving car accident in Indiana, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options.

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