New federal guidelines may help reduce in-car technology distractions

February 16, 2012 12:00 AM

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently announced the agency's proposed guidelines to help automakers reduce the amount of in-car technology distractions. The hope is that electronic devices inside the vehicle can be designed to run more efficiently so as to limit the amount of time drivers are interacting with GPS devices, radios and other technology.

"Drivers are going to have conversations, listen to music and read maps while driving, and automakers are helping them do this more safely with integrated hands-free systems that help drivers focus on the road," Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, told the AP.

The guidelines also recommend disabling the manual use of  text messaging, internet browsing, navigation services and placing phone calls. This does not include those devices that could be used by passengers or safety technology such as rear-facing cameras or brake assist devices.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 20 percent of all automotive crashes in 2009 involved distracted driving. The DOT guidelines are aimed at reducing distractions behind the wheel, which could lower the risk of accidents. Drivers should also keep up with car maintenance and check brakes regularly to ensure their vehicles are safe on the road.

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