Distracted Driving Rules to Limit Car Information Systems

In an attempt to tackle distracted driving issues that have become life-threatening on the road, the Transportation Department announced first-ever guidelines to address the problem. The department says its rules are aimed at keeping drivers’ eyes on the roads but will require many automakers to adjust features on their vehicles geared to avoid texting and driving as well as surfing the internet.

Distracted Driving Limited in New Vehicle Features

The Transportation Department says it is proposing to limit distracted drivers by restricting newer vehicle features. Currently, many vehicles offer entertainment systems that allow drivers to make calls, send and receive texts and surf the web, which present dangers to drivers who attempt to multi-task on the road.

To decrease the number of accidents resulting from this form of distracted driving, the department’s rules aim to:

  • Reduce the complexity and task length required for drivers to use their devices.
  • Limit device operation to one hand only (which leaves the other hand to remain on the steering wheel).
  • Limit individual off-road glances required for device operation to no more than two seconds.
  • Limit unnecessary visual information that rests in the driver’s field of view.
  • Limit the amount of manual inputs required for the device’s operation.

The department explained that it isn’t against the new technology cars offer but wants to simply limit the amount of use that could distract drivers. The campaign to reduce incidents involving distracted driving has been in the works for three years.

How Distracted Driving Rules Affect You

The new rules are expected to have an immediate impact on what technology automakers will be able to incorporate in their vehicles. Here’s a snapshot of how the rules would affect personal use of the built-in technology.

As a driver, you could not:

  • “Visual-manual” text message (i.e. no texting and driving)
  • Browse the internet
  • Look at your Facebook account
  • Key in an address into the navigation system
  • Input a phone number
  • Look at more than 30 characters of an incoming message unless the car is stopped and out of gear

In other words, when the car is moving, messages and other car entertainment tasks would be limited to two-second glances and one-hand operation. The alternative to these functions, the department said, would be voice-command systems, which would allow drivers to keep their eyes on the road and improve safety conditions for other drivers.