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Automakers Group Asks for “Objective” Approach to Distracted Driving Guidelines

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Global Automakers logoThe Association of Global Automakers (AGA) told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) yesterday that they support an “objective, performance-based, and technology neutral approach” to the agency’s proposed voluntary driver distraction guidelines. AGA was testifying at the first of three scheduled public hearings that are designed to give the public an opportunity to express their opinions to the NHTSA, as Suzanne Kane writes in Family Car Guide.

The NHTSA published its “Proposed Driver Distraction Guidelines” on February 24, 2012. This blog reported in February that the NHTSA is asking automakers to voluntarily make new cars safer by limiting the distraction risk for in-car electronic devices, including systems for communication, entertainment, information gathering, navigation, and other functions not required to safely operate a vehicle. The guidelines are the first in a series of recommendations that NHTSA plans to issue to address the problem of devices requiring use of the driver’s hands or a diversion of the driver’s eyes from the road.

This blog has noted that car accidents caused by distracted driving have been increasing, despite a steady decline in total crash deaths since 2005: “In 2009, 5,474 people were killed as a result of distracted driving, and hundreds of thousands more were injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”

According to a Global Automakers press release, Michael Cammisa, Global Automakers’ director of safety, said:

We agree with the agency’s goal of reducing the potential for driver distraction by providing uniform, modern guidelines for evaluating driver assistance and convenience features demanded by today’s consumers. We need to make sure we get this right, it’s important to recognize that overly restrictive limits on in-vehicle devices could result in greater distraction as drivers substitute hand-held devices for those functions integrated into the vehicle, diminishing the effectiveness of the guidelines.

The press release says that AGA — which represents international motor vehicle manufacturers, original equipment suppliers, and other automotive-related trade associations — favors state legislation for primary enforcement bans on the use of hand-held devices for texting and phone calls while driving. “Our goal is to foster a competitive environment in which more vehicles are designed and built to enhance Americans’ quality of life,” AGA said.

If you would like to present oral testimony at an upcoming public hearing on this topic, contact Kristin J. Kingsley, Engineering Policy Advisor and Special Assistant to the Deputy Administrator, at 1-202-366-5729. The other public hearings will be held on March 15, 2012, at the James R. Thompson Center, Room 16-502, 100 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60601; and on March 16, 2012, in the West Los Angeles Field Office Federal Building, Ron Williams Memorial Conference Room C-206, 11000 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90024. You can also submit written comments, which must be received by April 24, 2012.  Reference Docket No. NHTSA-2010-0053.

Image by Association of Global Automakers, used under Fair Use: Reporting.


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