Thursday, June 07, 2012
By Kate Hinds
US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has stepped up federal efforts to combat distracted driving, which he says are responsible for ten percent of all traffic fatalities.
The Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving, released Thursday, builds on efforts first piloted in Syracuse and Hartford. It calls for more public awareness, police enforcement, and driver education about the dangers of texting while driving. It also encourages the 11 remaining states that lack anti-texting laws to pass them.
While a recent government survey found that teen seatbelt use is up and drunk driving is down, over half of all high school seniors admitted to texting or emailing while driving.
On his blog, LaHood wrote that deaths from distracted driving are entirely preventable. "In 2010, at least 3,092 people were killed on our nation's roads in distraction-affected crashes. That's approximately one in every ten fatalities, and we can put an end to it."
The DOT is also funding a $2.4 million pilot program in California and Delaware that will examine whether increased police enforcement coupled with advertising and news coverage can significantly reduce distracted driving.
The blueprint can be downloaded here (pdf).
Friday, May 18, 2012
By Kate Hinds
How do you convince drivers not to text while driving? FORCE them to text while driving.
That's the reverse psychology applied by a Belgian organization called Responsible Young Drivers (RYD). The group has produced a video in which an actor, playing a driving instructor, told actual test takers that a new government regulation says they must demonstrate the ability to successfully text while driving to receive a license.
"Plenty of people will crash, I'm telling you!" says one would-be driver. Others scream, curse, swerve wildly and plow into traffic cones while trying to text instructor-dictated messages. (To up the difficulty level, the instructor criticizes their spelling.)
The end of the film provides the message that RYD wants to hammer home -- a frazzled teen saying "I can't do both!"
"Worldwide, vehicle crashes are the biggest cause of mortality of youngsters between 15 and 24 years of age," Axel Druart, RYD's European Project Director, told the BBC. "We have to do something about it."
Watch the video below.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
By Kate Hinds
Automakers should disable potentially distracting technology unless the car is turned off -- or in "park."
That's the message from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which unveiled the first-ever federally proposed guidelines to encourage manufacturers to keep dashboard distractions to a minimum.
The guidelines -- which are voluntary -- would apply to "communications, entertainment, information gathering and navigation devices or functions that are not required to safely operate the vehicle."
The public can comment on the guidelines for the next 60 days. Read the full release below.
U.S. Department of Transportation Proposes ‘Distraction’ Guidelines for Automakers
Proposed recommendations would encourage manufacturers to develop
“less distracting” in-vehicle electronic devices
WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced the first-ever federally proposed guidelines to encourage automobile manufacturers to limit the distraction risk for in-vehicle electronic devices. The proposed voluntary guidelines would apply to communications, entertainment, information gathering and navigation devices or functions that are not required to safely operate the vehicle.
Issued by the Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the guidelines would establish specific recommended criteria for electronic devices installed in vehicles at the time they are manufactured that require visual or manual operation by drivers. The announcement of the guidelines 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 of the issue and encourage stakeholders to take action.
“Distracted driving is a dangerous and deadly habit on America’s roadways – that’s why I’ve made it a priority to encourage people to stay focused behind the wheel,” said Secretary LaHood. “These guidelines are a major step forward in identifying real solutions to tackle the issue of distracted driving for drivers of all ages.”
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 today 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.
In particular, the Phase I proposed guidelines released today 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.
“We recognize that vehicle manufacturers want to build vehicles that include the tools and conveniences expected by today’s American drivers,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “The guidelines we’re proposing would offer real-world guidance to automakers to help them develop electronic devices that provide features consumers want—without disrupting a driver’s attention or sacrificing safety.”
The proposed Phase I distraction guidelines include recommendations to:
- · 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 future, 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. A third set of proposed guidelines (Phase III) may address voice-activated controls to further minimize distraction in factory-installed, aftermarket, and portable devices.
The Phase I guidelines were published in today’s Federal Register and members of the public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposal for 60 days. Final guidelines will be issued after the agency reviews and analyzes and responds to public input.
NHTSA will also hold public hearings on the proposed guidelines to solicit public comment. The hearings will take place in March and will be held in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington D.C
To view today’s proposed electronic equipment guidelines, click here.