Transportation Department Wants People to Actually Drive Their Cars

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Many drivers have three primary problems with the new generation of apps and software that are installed in late generation cars. The first is that they often malfunction. The second is that they are hard to learn and use. The third is that they distract the driver from driving. The Transportation Department has a novel solution: Allow drivers to drive the old-fashioned way, without all of the new tools.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released proposed guidelines today to help address driver distraction caused by mobile and other electronic devices in vehicles. Today’s announcement covers the second phase of voluntary guidelines to address driver distraction on U.S. roads. The first phase focused on devices or systems built into the vehicle at the time of manufacture.

As millions of Americans take to the roads for Thanksgiving gatherings, far too many are put at risk by drivers who are distracted by their cellphones,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.”These commonsense guidelines, grounded in the best research available, will help designers of mobile devices build products that cut down on distraction on the road.

The proposed, voluntary guidelines are designed to encourage portable and aftermarket electronic device developers to design products that, when used while driving, reduce the potential for driver distraction. The guidelines encourage manufacturers to implement features such as pairing, where a portable device is linked to a vehicle’s infotainment system, as well as Driver Mode, which is a simplified user interface. Both pairing and Driver Mode will reduce the potential for unsafe driver distraction by limiting the time a driver’s eyes are off the road, while at the same time preserving the full functionality of these devices when they are used at other times

The agency’s proposal addresses the most important issue–safety.  The faulty software issue will need to wait until later.