Addressing an historic surge in deadly traffic crashes nationwide, federal transportation regulators have proposed guidelines for developers of portable and aftermarket electronics that aim to reduce driver distraction and promote better safety on roads.
The proposed voluntary guidelines encourage electronics manufacturers and developers to implement features such as pairing, where a portable device is automatically linked to a vehicle’s infotainment system, and Driver Mode – a simplified user interface.
Both pairing and a Driver Mode interface would reduce the potential for unsafe driver distraction by reducing the time a driver’s eyes are off the road while at the same time preserving their full functionality when they are used at other times.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that as millions of Americans hit the road for the holidays, “far too many are put at risk by drivers who are distracted by their cellphones.”
“These common sense guidelines, grounded in the best research available, will help designers of mobile devices build products that cut down on distraction on the road,” Mr. Foxx said.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind said his agency “has long encouraged drivers to put down their phones and other devices, and just drive.”
“With driver distraction one of the factors behind the rise of traffic fatalities, we are committed to working with the industry to ensure that mobile devices are designed to keep drivers’ eyes where they belong — on the road,” Dr. Rosekind said.
NHTSA urges drivers to put down smartphones and refrain from using apps that encourage distracted driving, such as Snapchat, which lets motorists post pictures that record their speed, and the navigation app Waze, which rewards drivers with points for reporting traffic jams and accidents.
Additionally, NHTSA advises motorists to:
- Focus on the road;
- When using electronic devices for directions, set the destination prior to driving;
- Speak up when you’re a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to call or text for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the driving task;
- Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are the best defense against other unsafe drivers.