NHTSA proposes distraction guidelines for manufacturers

Washington – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Feb. 16 issued the first-ever federally proposed distracted driving guidelines (.pdf file) for vehicle manufacturers.

The proposed guidelines would establish criteria for electronic devices installed in light vehicles such as cars and minivans weighing less than 10,000 pounds.

NHTSA offers recommendations to minimize unsafe levels of distraction with the devices, specifically distractions that engage the driver’s eyes or hands. The recommendations include limiting device operation to one hand and minimizing the number of inputs. Additionally, the guidelines recommend manufacturers force certain devices to shut down or become inoperable while driving or unless the vehicle is parked.

The guidelines are “Phase I” of three planned distracted driving recommendations under consideration federally, with future phases addressing devices brought into the vehicle, such as navigation systems and smartphones. The public can comment on the Phase I guidelines by searching for Docket No. NHTSA-2010-0053 at www.regulations.gov.

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