Distracted driving is the talk of the nation these days. Gruesome reports of accidents that occur from texting while driving are on the rise. Adults text and drive even when they know that it is more dangerous to do so. New technology is even coming along to prevent distracted driving.
The government has now chimed in by providing recommendations to minimize in-vehicle distractions to manufacturers.
The recommendations, which are currently voluntary, request that electronic devices in the vehicle automatically disable functions unless the vehicle is in park.
- “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, social media content.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s research has discovered the visual-manual tasks (such as using a touchscreen) increases the risk of being in an accident by three times. This includes the cell phone, but also factory-installed navigation systems and other screens. The cell phone is still the most dangerous screen, requiring 23.3 seconds to send a text message.
The NHTSA study also found that using a cell phone while driving increases the risk by 173%. Hands-free kits do not prevent distracted driving either, because they require a manual-visual interaction at least 50% of time.
Newer infotainment systems are designed to lessen the distraction inside the vehicle, but this report indicates that current systems still require some manual input from the driver that requires eyes to be off of the road. Some systems, like Ford’s SYNC, are heavily voice-driven. Such a system may reduce the visual risk while driving on the road, but requires memorization of commands in order to use the system without deviating the eyes.
At first glance, people may see this targeted towards phone usage. The real danger for manufacturers here is the navigation system. Some manufacturers locate the screen in the center console. Others locate the system in the instrument cluster. Lastly, some are even in a heads-up display. This report claims that looking away or adjusting focus to see one of these screens involves increased risk of an accident.
Currently just recommendations, these tips could very well turn into requirements for new vehicles going forward.