Over the past several years, drivers in New Orleans have seen increased regulation of distracting behavior – such as cell phone use or texting – while operating a motor vehicle. While the danger of personal injury accidents caused by distracted drivers has become a great concern, there has been little federal guidance regarding how to control this dangerous behavior. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has finally changed that with the proposal of new guidelines aimed at combating distracted driving.
The proposed guidelines address issues regarding the design and function of electronic devices built into light automobiles, such as cars and minivans. While the states have largely been limited to regulations attempting to change the behavior of drivers, these proposed federal guidelines are aimed at the manufacturers, who have been increasingly incorporating potentially distracting electronic devices into their vehicles.
Specific recommendations include limiting the complexity and time necessary to use a given device, limiting time needed to look away from the road when using a device to no more than two seconds, designing devices so that they require the use of no more than one hand and require little manual input, and limiting information placed in the driver’s field of view when using the device.
The NHTSA also proposes that certain features – primarily those requiring manual input such as text messaging, internet browsing, and navigation system input – be disabled when the vehicle is not in park.
These proposed guidelines are the first of at least three the NHTSA plans to release regarding distracted driving. Future guidelines will address electronics that are not built into vehicles but pose distractions – such as phones and web browsing devices – and the use of voice-activated controls. It is hoped these guidelines will help reduce the risk of personal injury auto accidents caused by distracted drivers.
If you have been injured by a distracted driver, we would be happy to help you. We can be reached with your questions at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.