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In-Vehicle Technology Guidelines Aim to Reduce Distracted Driving Crashes

According to a recent study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), some of the most dangerous distractions to drivers today are the technology advances made by automobile manufacturers. While these electronic gadgets are intended to make our lives easier, they can be deadly distractions.

These new technological improvements include electronic devices built into new cars that enhance visual display for communication and entertainment including texting, video conferencing, internet browsing and access to Facebook and other social media. Also included are navigation devices.

There are nearly 3,000 deaths per year caused by distracted driving according to NHTSA. These deaths are attributed to a crash where the driver loses concentration while driving due to visual, manual or cognitive distractions. Additionally, surveys indicate that more than 100,000 drivers are texting at any given moment during the day and over 600,000 drivers are holding a phone to their ear as they drive.

NHTSA has issued a set of voluntary guidelines intended to provide a balance to consumers who appreciate and specifically shop for in-vehicle technology, and car manufacturers who want to provide what consumers want along with the safety measures necessary to protect those consumers.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says, “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.”

These voluntary guidelines include “per se lock outs”, meaning these devices cannot be used by the driver while the vehicle is in use:

  • Display of text that automatically scrolls
  • Display of text from books, magazines, web page content, social media content, advertising or marketing
  • Display of video not related to driving
  • Manual text entry attributed to text messaging, internet browsing and any other text based communications
  • Display of certain photographic or illustrative images (not including simple map display for navigational purposes)

Other recommendations for in-vehicle devices include incorporating design features that limit and reduce the potential for distraction including:

  • Performance of visual-manual tasks should only require one hand
  • Active displays should be located as close as practicable to the driver’s forward  line of sight
  • A maximum downward viewing angle based on the center of the display

While these recommendations from NHTSA are still voluntary, technology advances at lightning speed and there is additional research that needs to occur in order to reduce distracted driving due to in-vehicle devices. In the meanwhile, let’s all try to do our part to not let these technological wonders distract us while we navigate the roads and highways of Colorado.

If you have been in a car crash due to the actions of a distracted driver, contact the experienced Denver distracted driver accident attorneys at The Bendinelli Law Firm. We’ll deal with the insurance adjusters and doctor bills so that you can focus on healing.