US seeks 'driver distraction' limit

2012-02-17 12:53

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration wants limits on vehicle features that allow drivers to text and make cellphone calls while the car is moving as part of a broader effort to curb distracted driving.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood proposed voluntary steps for automakers on Thursday, February 17, 2012, that would establish new safety criteria for hands-free calling, navigation, and entertainment systems that have become common in new vehicles.

The guidelines are mainly an attempt to reach younger drivers, who are the most inexperienced and whose daily lives are most influenced by wireless technology.


LaHood said "distracted driving is a dangerous and deadly habit on America's roads" and his transportation department on Thursday introduced guidlines recommending that automakers adopt technology to disable distracting electronic systems that are accessible to the driver - but not passengers - when a car is moving. This would cover text messaging, internet browsing, and access to social media.

The proposal is a compromise for LaHood, who stopped short of ordering that automakers restrict hands-free and other technological advances popular with consumers and key selling points in new vehicles.

Automakers said they would review the government's proposal, but added that hands-free technology was designed to help drivers keep their eyes on the road.

The group, via their Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said: "People expect to have access to new technology, so integrating and adapting this technology to enable safe driving is the solution."

The proposed Transportation Department guidelines are subject to a 60-day public comment period.