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NHTSA Releases More Reasonable Driver Distraction Guidelines

by Chris Schreiner | 4月 24, 2013

Yesterday, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released revised driver distraction guidelines. This long overdue revision came after the automotive industry raised serious questions and concerns regarding specific guidelines which at times seemed arbitrary and counterproductive.

Thankfully, NHTSA listened and clarified, removed or modified some of the more controversial guidelines, specifically regarding dynamically moving maps, non-driving-related static images, and the number of characters allowed to be presented on a display.

In doing so, NHTSA’s guidelines came closer in line with the statement of principles from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers released back in 2006. The work that the AAM and its member organizations put into developing and adhering to their own set of voluntary guidelines staved off regulation and laid the groundwork for NHTSA’s guidelines, helping the automobile industry to control the conversation and define its own solution to the problem of driver distraction.

NHTSA did, however, go further than the AAM in a few areas which will impact future connected infotainment systems. Most notably perhaps is the recommendation against satellite imagery and street views, impacting future implementations of those features from Google or Bing.

Of course these guidelines are “voluntary” though NHTSA will be checking to see if they are followed. NHTSA will now turn its attention to Phase 2 and 3 addressing carried-in devices and speech recognition, respectively.

In addition to releasing the revised guidelines, NHTSA also released its latest research report on the effects of cell phone use while driving. In line with previous naturalistic research, this report showed that driver distraction is all about visual-manual issues when it comes to crash risk. Manual dialing increased crash risk, while talking on a handheld and doing any call-related task on hands-free implementations do not. 

It will be interesting to see the results of naturalistic studies on the impact of speech recognition on crash risk. Since all data thus far suggests that it is visual-manual distraction which increases crash risk, what guidelines can NHTSA draw up if it is found that speech recognition does not negatively impact safety?

 

Click here for more on the impact of NHTSA’s revised driver distraction guidelines.

Click here for more on driver distraction research and legislation.

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