DOT, NHTSA announce distracted driver guidelines for automakers

DOT, NHTSA announce distracted driver guidelines for automakers

Today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood released visual-manual distraction guidelines for automobile manufacturers to limit drivers’ distraction risk connected to electronic devices already built into their vehicles, including original-equipment communication, entertainment and navigation features in the car’s center stack.

“Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic that has devastating consequences on our nation’s roadways,” said Secretary LaHood in a press statement. “These guidelines recognize that today’s drivers appreciate technology, while providing automakers with a way to balance the innovation consumers want with the safety we all need. Combined with good laws, good enforcement and good education, these guidelines can save lives.”

In 2012, NHTSA released its “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving” and a first round of guidelines for car manufacturers that focused on limiting in-car distractions. This finalized set of guidelines focuses on visual-manual distractions installed at the factory level, recommending the following operations be disabled unless a car is stopped and in ‘park’:

  • Manual text entry for the purposes of text messaging and internet browsing
  • Video-based entertainment and communications like video phoning or video conferencing
  • Display of certain types of text, including text messages, web pages, social media content

Remember, these are related to the pre-installed electronics in your car, not your mobile device. As the NHTSTA Administrator has explained to Be Car Chic in the past, the agency can’t exactly regulate what happens with your cell phone, only what options manufacturers include that increase your risk of distraction while operating a vehicle.

“We’ve been on a crusade for the last four years against distracted driving,” LaHood said on a media call held this afternoon.

We have had the opportunity to interview Administrator David Strickland on this topic twice over the last two years. Stay tuned for a third annual interview with NHTSA’s leader, where we will get a more in-depth look at these new guidelines and the Administrator’s take on what they mean for consumers and automakers.

You should also catch up on our past conversations with the Administrator here:

Read the full text of the guidelines below:

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This article was written by

Melanie Batenchuk founded Be Car Chic in 2009 as a way to help consumers make smart decisions when buying and selling their cars. Her prior work at the dealership, trade association and manufacturer levels has provided her a deep understanding of the complex facets within the auto industry, making her a leading woman in her field.