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Automakers should lower in-vehicle distractions

February 16, 2012

Consumers Union: New guidelines for automakers will help lower risks of in-vehicle distractions

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today unveiled the federal government’s first-ever guidelines to urge automakers to limit distractions for in-vehicle electronic devices.
The voluntary guidelines issued by DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) include recommendations that automakers design vehicles so certain types of dashboard technology are disabled when the vehicle is in motion. These potential distractions include in-dash text messaging, Internet browsing, complex phone-dialing systems, and entering addresses into GPS navigation systems. The guidelines also offer recommendations for making in-vehicle devices less complicated and less time-consuming to operate.
David Champion, the senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center, said, “From the testing of cars recently, we’ve seen vehicles with very distracting controls. We congratulate NHTSA for this first step in providing a road map for automakers to develop safer cars with simple, easy-to-use controls that will minimize driver distraction. It only takes a brief moment of distraction to lead to tragedy, and these guidelines are a good step toward lowering the risk.”
Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, has been working with DOT to educate and inform consumers about the dangers of distracted driving, including the distribution of free guides and public service announcements about the risks and tips for avoiding dangers.
For more information from the Department of Transportation about these guidelines, click here.