The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced Thursday that it has established the first-ever guidelines for automakers to eliminate drivers’ distractions. The recommendations are aimed at encouraging manufacturers to develop “less distracting” in-vehicle electronic devices.

The guidelines, which are voluntary, apply to communications, entertainment, information gathering and navigation devices or functions that are not required to safely operate the vehicle.

The Florida car accident attorneys at Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, applaud the government for stepping in and asking the automakers to help make our highways safer. While we recognize that the American public shares the responsibility of driving safely, anything that can be done to limit distractions is a benefit.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued the guidelines that focus on electronic devices that are installed by the manufacturers and require “visual or manual operation” by the driver. The NHTSA offers these guidelines for electronic devices that could cause distraction by “engaging the driver’s eyes or hands for more than a very limited duration while driving.”

These recommendations come on the heels of the Detroit Auto Show, held in January, where carmakers unveiled their latest safety, technology and fuel efficiency features that could soon be standard options in mainstream vehicles. According to the Chicago Tribune, carmakers have already begun adding technology aimed at alleviating cell phone distractions. Hands-free and voice-activation features are being added by Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Hyundai and Toyota.

According to Secretary LaHood, distracted driving is a deadly and dangerous habit on America’s roads, which is why it has become his priority to encourage individuals to stay focused while behind the wheel. The guidelines are a big step forward in terms of determining effective solutions to tackle the issue of distracted driving among drivers of all ages.

The proposed NHTSA distraction guidelines include recommendations to:

  • Reduce complexity and task length required by the device;
  • Limit individual off-road glances required for device operation to no more than two seconds in duration;
  • Limit device operation to one hand only (leaving the other hand to remain on the steering wheel to control the vehicle);
  • Limit the amount of manual inputs required for device operation;
  • Limit unnecessary visual information in the driver’s field of view.

The recommendations also suggest disabling features, unless the vehicle is in park, that allow visual-manual text messaging, Internet browsing and GPS manual address entry.

These guidelines are the first phase of guidelines in a series of guidance documents the NHTSA plans to issue to address distraction sources from the primary task of driving that require the diversion of the eyes or the use of hands.

Careless driving (the equivalent to distracted driving) was the leading cause of vehicle accidents in Florida last year, according to Florida’s 2010 crash statistics. Over 47,500 accidents involving careless driving resulted in injuries, and 332 resulted in fatalities.

Our Treasure Coast auto accident attorneys urge all Florida drivers to stay focused while on the road and to not drive while distracted.

An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

The law firm of Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, has provided legal assistance to car accident victims in South Florida and the Treasure Coast since 1975. The firm sponsors a Facebook campaign to help end distracted driving entitled Hang Up and Drive! We believe that distracted driving is a life-threatening behavior that can be stopped.

If a distracted driver in Florida has injured you or someone you love, call us today at (800) 299-8878 or fill out our convenient online contact form for a free consultation.