US asks drivers to put down their smartphones


Using devices while on the road is something truly connected cars could actually combat. One of the causes of the rising number of fatalities on the road around the world is driver distraction, and part of the blame perhaps rests with smartphones.

This is why the US has released new, voluntary guidelines to help address the issue cause by mobiles and electronic devices in vehicles.

The US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released guidelines previously that looked at driver distraction caused by built-in car devices.

Both series of guidelines are aimed at encouraging portable and aftermarket electronic device developers to design products that when used while driving, reduce the potential for drivers to be distracted.

One way of doing this, the US DOT said, was to implement features such as the ability to pair devices with a car’s infotainment system, or have a ‘drive mode’ or simplified user interface.

Both of these, the government said, would reduce the potential for unsafe driver distraction “by limiting the time a driver’s eyes are off the road, while at the same time preserving the full functionality of these devices when they are used at other times.”

The body says it urges drivers and passengers to take safety precautions to minimise driver distraction, including:

  • Put your cell phone down and focus on the road
  • When using electronic devices for directions, set the destination prior to driving
  • Speak up when you're a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to call or text for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the driving task
  • Always wear your seat belt

“The NHTSA has long encouraged drivers to put down their phones and other devices, and just drive, “ said 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.”

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