For the past two weeks, I've welcomed guest contributors to this blog in honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month. I cannot thank each and every one of them enough for their generous work. I also want to thank everyone who read these informative and heart-wrenching blog posts, particularly those who shared one or more of them with others.
After all, that's how we continue spreading awareness of this deadly epidemic.
As technology evolves, however, it's clear that distractions behind the wheel don't end with cell phones. And here at DOT, neither do our efforts to prevent distracted driving.
Many carmakers are now developing in-vehicle electronics systems that can post to social networking sites, text message, search the internet, and give directions. And while there’s no doubt that drivers appreciate these amenities, we have an important obligation to balance the innovation consumers want with the safety we all need.
That's why, today, we're issuing voluntary guidelines for in-vehicle electronics systems. These safety guidelines were first proposed last year and now include feedback from stakeholders across the country. They include:
- Limiting --to 2 seconds at a time and 12 seconds total-- the time drivers must take their eyes off the road to operate in-car technology;
- Disabling texting, social media, and web browsing features unless a vehicle is stopped and in park; and
- Disabling video-based calling and conferencing unless a vehicle is stopped and in park.
I believe automakers will ultimately adopt these guidelines. They know how much drivers value safety – it’s why they include so many airbags and why they offer so many high-tech safety features that protect us from objects in our blind spot or from getting too close to the car ahead of us.
These are common sense guidelines. And they’re backed up by research and analysis from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In fact, a new naturalistic driving study NHTSA is releasing today shows that visual and manual tasks behind the wheel triple the risk of getting into a crash.
The bottom line is this: We don’t have to choose between providing consumers with the technology they want and keeping folks safe. We can –and must– do both.
That’s what the American people want. That’s what these guidelines set out to do. And I hope the automakers will join us in embracing these real-world solutions to America’s distracted driving epidemic.