The automobile industry is highly competitive, with each company trying to outdo the others in creating the next big thing, with features like onboard GPS systems, automated web surfing, and docks for mp3 players, just to name a few.
While this certainly can make for a "cooler" car, these features also create a number of new ways for drivers to become distracted on the road. In 2010, distracted driving contributed to more than 3,000 crash deaths. The dangers of distracted driving, along with the creation of these new devices, have prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to create new guidelines for car manufacturers.
These guidelines, the first of their kind issued by the NHTSA, instruct manufacturers to create gadgets that drivers can operate while keeping at least one hand on the wheel at all times and do not force drivers to look away from the road for more than two seconds.
The NHTSA also proposed that devices do not contain unnecessary visual information within the driver's field of view. They also recommend that devices needing visual or manual input, such as entering an address into a GPS, be automatically disabled unless the car is stopped and in park. Public hearings on the guidelines will take place next month in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C., and there will be a 60-day period for public comment.
Officials hope these guidelines will help to create a safer driving environment for all motorists without enforcing strict regulations. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, representing 12 of the major automakers that sell in the U.S., says that these new guidelines draw heavily from plans already in place in the industry during the past decade.
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