The guidelines, which are voluntary, encourage the manufacturers of cars, light trucks, and SUVs to simplify their communication and infotainment systems, so drivers won't need more than a few seconds to use a device. The proposals would not apply to safety features, such as electronic collision warning systems.
The Department of Transportation (DOT), which oversees the NHTSA, has suggested a phased-in approach for compliance.
The Phase I guidelines include these recommendations:
Reduce complexity and task length required by the device;
Limit device operation to one hand only (leaving the other hand to remain on the steering wheel to control the vehicle);
Limit individual off-road glances required for device operation to no more than two seconds in duration;
Limit unnecessary visual information in the driver's field of view;
Limit the amount of manual inputs required for device operation.
The proposal also suggests disabling these operations while the vehicle is in motion:
Visual-manual text messaging;
Visual-manual internet browsing;
Visual-manual social media browsing;
Visual-manual navigation system destination entry by address;
Visual-manual 10-digit phone dialing;
Displaying to the driver more than 30 characters of text unrelated to the driving task.
The DOT does not intend to penalize carmakers that don't implement the guidelines.
I believe there are big differences in traffic safety between Europe and the U.S. However, this doesn't mean there is a big difference in traffic deaths. This comparative study is interesting. How much do you think things have changed since then?
From a study published in 2007 : "In 2005 Sweden recorded its lowest number of fatalities since the 1940s, while the US recorded its highest number in 15 years. The Swedish total is 66% below the highest number recorded in Sweden (in 1966), while the US total is only 20% below the highest number recorded in the US (in 1972). If the US total had dropped from its high by the same percent as the Swedish total did, in 2005 the US would have suffered 18,293 traffic deaths, 25,150 fewer than the actual total of 43,443. Despite this enormous difference in safety improvement between the US and Sweden, the distributions of US and Swedish fatalities by age and sex are found to be similar." http://scienceservingsociety.com/p/X/01.htm
"The DOT does not intend to penalize carmakers that don't implement the guidelines."
If the DOT does not intent to apply any penalizations for non-implementation, what's the point of the guidelines? It would be great if carmakers follow the guidelines, but let's face it, carmakers will do what is best for the business, and that is to give all the distractions the consumers are asking for.
"carmakers will do what is best for the business, and that is to give all the distractions the consumers are asking for."
@Susan: I don't think consumers ask for distractions. Consumers are themselves concerned about their security. Consumers ask for options and features that they can use while driving for their entertainment and ease. If two car makers are providing the same options to the consumers and one of them is providing a safer way to use these features while driving, consumers would surely go for that brand of car. This way, if a car maker invests into following these guidelines and making the driving safe, they will get a better response from the consumers.
I have a feature on my smarphone which allows me to use the phone through voice commands while I'm driving. I can make call to a contact, browse maps or switch songs etc all through voice commands. I think all the devices in cars should allow user the option to give voice commands as input to perform various functions. Would certainly help in reducing distraction.
Yes, voice command could be the way to avoid visual distraction, and maybe reduce other types of distractions. About the entertainment part, well, watching a video or a slide show while driving doesn't seem to be quite appropriate for several reasons, unless you want to transform your car into your new mobile office.
Considering customized cars, I think there should be a general policy irrespective of the statue either customized or general that no car should have any distractive feature. Driving require total concentration, you can imagine watching movie while driving.
DOT should impose penalties on car makers who fail to adhere to these guidelines. Then only such guidelines will become effective. If a distracting feature is automatically disabled during the drivering then the safety will be forced onto the drivers and not be at the mercy of the subjective judgement of the driver. about what is distracting and what is not.
I think this could lead to something good.
Even if DOT does not want to penalise manufacturers who don't comply, they should at least offer some sort of certification and approval for those who comply, this could help compel other to respond to creating safer cars
Barbara, After reading through the proposed guidelines, I couldn't but wonder how the automakers are supposed to implement them. How, for instance, do you limit what a driver can look at inside or outside the vehicle -- and if you can through software -- how do you implement the timing issue? How long am I supposed to glance at my GPS, for instance, and who's timing me? Some of the guidelines simply require the driver to be more responsible behind the wheel and cannot be legislated or even required.
I think it is a positive move but I fear it is unlikely to work and is a bit unfair to the car manufacturers. Nothing stops the third party devices to be used in the cars according to this law. It simply prevents the "distractive" features to come as standard in cars.
If the real issue is personal and driving safety here, the law should be extended to prohibit the "use" of distractive infotainment systems in cars. Therefore, the liability should be shifted to the drivers, which I think where the weakest link in the chain lies.
This law will simply boost the sales of the third party in-car infotainment device manufacturers because most drivers fill go and buy the missing features from them. As a result, the driving safety will remain as a problem.
Cryptoman, As Barbara wrote in a previous message will legislation solve entire problems of driver distraction? There's no law against reading while driving (there's a law about distraction but not that specific). What happens in the gray areas? The regulators may end up prescribing all kinds of laws and adding more and more to these as consumers add to the things they do behind the wheel.
However I think guidelines are not enough. Some of these that you mentioned should be banned (incl. text messaging and internet browsing) and penal action should be taken against carmakers who dont ensure that these features are taken off. Also, orientation/guidelines at the time of license issuance may help take the campaign one step forward so that each driver knows whats allowed and whats illegal/dangerous.
I am not a fan of too much legislation, but the list of guidelines provided seems pretty reasonable. It certainly doesn't make sense to enable drivers with too many distracting devices while at the same time implementing legislation to make using them illegal.
I agree with the guidelines but it seems we are dealing with kids. People must understand the danger of using the phone while driving (texting has to be 10x more dangerous than talking) and I get afraid everytime I look to the car next to me and see the other person looking down... its very probable he isn't paying attention, and in some degree, my life is in danger.
Should we rely on the phones? carmakers? ... We must rely on the people, or have bigger fines, but I don't want to only depend on technology.
I believe that bigger fines is the best way to make them understand. It becomes very hard to identify a person using their phone while driving... but maybe someday technology can help us identify that.
And yet I would wager that this will not affect sales of mobile electronics at all, even if mobile electronic devices were declared to be some kind of attractive nuisance that had to be programmed to turn themselves off in a car. (I wonder how that would be done without affecting the ability of passengers to use the devices.)
Maybe this will become moot when mobile electronics take over driving.
Barbara , this is a nice article. These guidelines will definitely improve the workflow and hope that will make an impact similar to the one made by Rumble strips that is a significant reduction in highway accidents. The introdution of haptics based controls will be of great help and importance in realising some of the designs that is within this guideline and framework. Needless to say Safety must be of utmost importance..!
As many readers point out, these guidelines have a lot of flaws. In particular, Bolaji's questions about the 2-second rule (how long should I look at my GPS and who is timing me?) is a classic. Legislators frequently come up with guidelines and give no clue how to implement them. There is also the point that these are voluntary, meaning there is nothing that will force carmakers to implement them.
Then there is the bigger picture: Can you legislate common sense? You shouldn't have to--drivers should be the judge of how much distraction they can handle. Unfortuantely, every day there is evidence to indicate a lot of people don't use common sense while driving.
The only way to enforce the 2-second rule is for the data to flash up, stay there 2 second, and then shut off.
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Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
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Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.