Gone is the outright ban and the proposed rules make a lot of sense.
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- Feb. 18, 2012
If it is not short menu voice activated, do not use it…
Ray LaHood, the U.S. Transportation Secretary, announced the first-ever federally proposed guidelines to encourage
automobile manufacturers to limit the distraction risk for in-vehicle infotainment systems. While not nearly as Machiavellian as the previous “no electronics” pronouncements out of the DOT, the proposed voluntary guidelines would apply to all infotainment functions and devices not required to safely operate the vehicle.
The guidelines would establish specific criteria for electronic devices installed in vehicles at the time they are manufactured that require visual or manual operation by drivers. The proposed guideline release comes just days after President Obama's FY 2013 budget request which includes $330 million over six years for distracted driving programs that increase awareness.
Geared toward light vehicles (cars, SUVs, pickup trucks, minivans, and other vehicles rated at not more than 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight), the guidelines proposed are the first in a series of guidance documents NHTSA plans to issue to address sources of distraction that require use of the hands and/or diversion of the eyes from the primary task of driving. Why consumer and commercial weights > 10,000 pounds were specifically excluded in this release is unknown?
The Phase I proposed guidelines recommend criteria that manufacturers can use to ensure the systems or devices they provide in their vehicles are less likely to distract the driver with tasks not directly relevant to safely operating the vehicle, or cause undue distraction by engaging the driver's eyes or hands for more than a very limited duration while driving. Electronic warning system functions such as forward-collision or lane departure alerts would not be subject to the proposed guidelines, since they are intended to warn a driver of a potential crash and are not considered distracting devices.
"These guidelines are a major step forward in identifying real solutions to tackle the issue of distracted driving for drivers of all ages."
In detail, Phase I distraction guidelines include the following recommendations:
- Reduce complexity and task length required by the device
- Limit device operation to one hand only (leaving the other hand to remain on the steering wheel to control the vehicle)
- Limit individual off-road glances required for device operation to no more than two seconds in duration
- Limit unnecessary visual information in the driver's field of view
- Limit the amount of manual inputs required for device operation.
The proposed guidelines would also recommend the disabling of the following operations by in-vehicle electronic devices while driving, unless the devices are intended for use by passengers and cannot reasonably be accessed or seen by the driver, or unless the vehicle is stopped and the transmission shift lever is 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.
NHTSA is also considering Phase II proposed guidelines that might address devices or systems that are not built into the vehicle but are brought into the vehicle and used while driving, including aftermarket and portable personal electronic devices such as navigation systems, smart phones, electronic tablets and pads, and other mobile communications devices.
Phase III may address voice-activated controls to further minimize distraction in factory-installed, aftermarket, and portable devices.
The public will have the standard 60 day comment period to provide input on the Phase I guidelines before a final rule is mandated.