Department of Transportation Targeting Driver Distraction Caused by Mobile Devices

The guidelines are meant to help device developers to design products reducing driver distraction

Department of Transportation Targeting Driver Distraction Caused by Mobile Devices
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November 28, 2016

The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released proposed guidelines targeting driver distraction due to the use of mobile and other electronic devices while driving.

"[F]ar too many [Americans] are put at risk by drivers who are distracted by their cellphones," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "These commonsense guidelines, grounded in the best research available, will help designers of mobile devices build products that cut down on distraction on the road."

The voluntary guidelines are intended to encourage developers of portable as well as aftermarket electronic devices to design items that lessen the possibility for driver distraction when used while driving. The guidelines encourage manufacturers to include features like pairing—which links a mobile device to the infotainment system in the vehicle—as well as Driver Mode, a simplified user interface. Both of these features will lessen the possibility of dangerous driver distraction by limiting how long a driver's eyes are not on the road while also maintaining the devices' full functionality when used at other times.

"NHTSA has long encouraged drivers to put down their phones and other devices, and just drive," said NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind. "With driver distraction one of the factors behind the rise of traffic fatalities, we are committed to working with the industry to ensure that mobile devices are designed to keep drivers' eyes where they belong — on the road."

The agency urges drivers to take the following precautions to minimize driving distraction:

  • Put down your cell phone and focus on the road.
  • When using an electronic device for directions, set the destination before you leave.
  • Whenever you are a passenger in a vehicle whose driver is using an electronic device while driving, offer to call or text for the driver.
  • Always wear your seat belt, the best defense against unsafe drivers.