Federal Government Finally Weighs In On Distracted Driving.

by Friedman & Ranzenhofer, PC on May 2, 2012

in Buffalo Car Accidents

Over the past few years, drivers in Buffalo have been subjected to increased regulation of distracting behavior – such as cell phone use or texting – while operating a motor vehicle.  While the danger of personal injury accidents caused by distracted drivers has become a great concern, individual states have received little federal guidance regarding how to control this dangerous behavior.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has finally changed that with the proposal of new guidelines aimed at combating distracted driving.

The proposed guidelines address issues regarding the design and function of electronic devices built into light automobiles such as cars and minivans.  While the states have primarily been limited to regulations attempting to change the behavior of drivers, these proposed federal guidelines are aimed at the manufacturers of these vehicles and devices.  Specific recommendations are made regarding limiting the complexity and time necessary to use a given device, limiting time needed to look away from the road when using a device to no more than two seconds, designing devices so that they require the use of no more than one hand and require little manual input, and limiting information placed in the driver’s field of view when using the device.  

The NHTSA also proposes that certain features – primarily those requiring manual input such as text messaging, internet browsing, and navigation system input – be disabled when the vehicle is not in park.   
These proposed guidelines are the first of at least three the NHTSA plans to release regarding distracted driving.  Future guidelines will address electronics that are not built into vehicles but pose distractions – such as phones and web browsing devices – and the use of voice-activated controls.  It is hoped these guidelines will help reduce the risk of personal injury auto accidents caused by distracted drivers.

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