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'Distraction' guidelines for drivers


Recommendations from the US DoT would encourage manufacturers to develop 'less-distracting' in-vehicle electronic devices.

The US Transportation Secretary has announced the first federally proposed guidelines to encourage vehicle manufacturers to limit the distraction risk for in-vehicle electronic devices.

The proposed voluntary guidelines would apply to navigation, comms, entertainment, info-gathering and devices or functions that are not required to safely operate the vehicle - they would establish specific recommended criteria for devices installed in vehicles at manufacture that require visual or manual operation by drivers.

The first set of guidelines cover cars, SUVs, pickup trucks, minivans and other vehicles of not more than 10,000 lb (~4,500 kg) gross weight. But warning functions such as forward-collision or lane departure alerts would not be covered as they are intended to warn of a potential crash and are not considered distracting.

The proposed Phase I distraction guidelines include recommendations to:
- reduce complexity and task length required
- limit device operation to one hand only
- limit individual off-road glances required for device operation to no more than 2 secs
- limit unnecessary visual information in the driver's field of view
- limit the amount of manual inputs required

The guidelines would also recommend the disabling of the following while driving, unless the devices are for use by passengers and cannot be accessed or seen by the driver - or unless the vehicle is stopped and in neutral:
- text messaging
- internet browsing
- navigation system destination entry
- phone dialing
- displaying >30 characters of text unrelated to the driving task

A later phase would cover portable personal electronic devices such as navigation systems, smart phones, tablets and pads. A third set of proposed guidelines will address voice-activated controls and devices.

The US 2013 budget request includes $330 million over 6 years for distracted driving programmes that increase awareness of the issue and encourage manufacturers to take action.

Details from the US DoT below.

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