The United States Department of Transportation released a new set of guidelines for auto manufacturers this week designed to reduce distracted driving and improve safety on the nation’s roads, and a major auto industry trade group is calling foul.
Many cars currently offer in-vehicle docks for smartphones, allowing you the ability to answer a call without having to look at your phone. The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHSTA) is now recommending car manufacturers disable any functionality that allows for text entry, video, or browsing the web while the car is in motion. It was also recommended that mapping applications not use three-dimensional models, photographs, or satellite images.
The Auto Alliance, an automotive trade group, panned the guidelines in a statement. “Drivers want (these functions) in their dashboard systems, and we think it makes sense to provide it as a means of discouraging drivers from using hand-held phones as GPS systems. Our concern is that limiting built-in systems without simultaneously addressing portable devices could result in drivers choosing not to connect their phones in order to access the functionality they want.”
The NHSTA recommendations are based on a study called The Impact of Hand-Held and Hands-Free Cell Phone Use on Driving Performance and Safety Critical Event Risk. The study shows that sending text messages increases the risk of a crash by a factor of two, while searching for your phone while driving increases your risk threefold. Other studies show that interacting with your phone even via voice while driving impairs drivers as much as being legally drunk and California State courts recently ruled that using maps on a smartphone while driving to be illegal.