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U.S. DOT releases voluntary guidelines to minimize in-vehicle distractions

April 27, 2013

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood released distraction guidelines on April 23 that encourage automobile manufacturers to limit the distraction risk connected to electronic devices built into their vehicles, such as communications, entertainment, and navigation devices.

"Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic that has devastating consequences on our nation's roadways," said LaHood. "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."

Issued by the US DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the voluntary guidelines establish specific recommended criteria for electronic devices installed in vehicles at the time they are manufactured that require drivers to take their hands off the wheel or eyes off the road to use them.

The guidelines include recommendations to limit the time a driver must take his or her eyes off the road to perform any task to two seconds at a time and twelve seconds total. The guidelines also recommend disabling several operations unless the vehicle is stopped and in park, such as:

  • Manual text entry for the purposes of text messaging and internet browsing
  • Video-based entertainment and communications like video phoning or video conferencing
  • Display of certain types of text, including text messages, web pages, and social media content

Read the U.S. DOT press release.