On Thursday, the U.S. Transportation Secretary announced the first of it's kind: federally proposed guidelines that would encourage automobile manufacturers to limit the risk of distraction for electronic devices and their in-vehicle use. These are voluntary and proposed guidelines that would apply to electronics based on communication, entertainment, information gathering and navigation devices or any other devices that are not necessary to operate a vehicle safely. Issued by the NHTSA, the guidelines would form criteria specific to electronic devices that require the vehicle's operator to visually or manually operate and that are installed at the time of the vehicle's manufature.
These guidelines were announced shortly after President Obama's FY 2013 buget request. Aimed at distracted driving programs, his request included a sum of $330 million over 6 years to increase awareness and encourage stakeholders to take action in the issue of distracted driving.
Some of the recommended guidelines include: -Reduce the complexity and length of tasks that required of the device; -Limit device operation to one hand only, allowing the other hand to stay on the steering wheel; -Limit individual off-road glances needed to operate the electronic device to no more than 2 seconds; -Limit unnecessary visual information in the driver's field of view; -Limit the number of manual inputs necessary to operate the electronic device.
It is also recommended that the following be disabled while driving, unless the intented use is that of the passenger and cannot be accessed or seen by the driver, or unless the vehicle is stopped and the transmission in in park: -Visual/manual text messaging; -Visual/manual internet browsing; -Visual/manual social media browsing; -Visual/manual navigation system destination entry by address; -Visual/manual 10-digit phone dialing; -Displaying to the driver more than 30 characters of text unrelated to the driving task.
These are preliminary Phase I guidelines. In the future, the NHTSA is considering Phase II and Phase III, which will address aftermarket portable personal electronics that are not built-in to the vehicle, as well as voice-activated controls to further decrease distractions while driving.