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Feds issue guidelines to reduce distractions, vehicle accidents

Newly issued driving guidelines proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) could be the first to directly address GPS units and other electronic devices that foster distracted driving and increase the risk of drivers becoming involved in car accidents.

Car crash experts note that the guidelines, if approved, would force automakers to revisit the kinds and numbers of electronic devices currently installed in vehicles in order to become compliant with the regulations.

The guidelines are divided into three phases designed to gradually implement safer driving practices and motor vehicle features in Ohio and elsewhere across the country.

The first phase, which is proposed and pending approval, emphasizes communication and cooperation with automakers to reduce car and truck accident rates by customizing vehicles with electronics and other devices that are less likely to become distracting to drivers. Such devices are those that do not occupy a driver's eyes and hands for long periods.

The more specific goals of the proposal are to reduce the length of time a driver's eyes are diverted from the road, to only use devices requiring the use of one hand, and to utilize devices that require a minimal amount of manual operation, among other desired features.

Other electronic devices featured in a vehicle may be disabled when the car is in drive, per the recommendation of the NHTSA.

The NHTSA emphasized that it is not interested in banning electronic devices from vehicles entirely. Instead, it is simply seeking measures to reduce distracted driving and regulate the use of electronic devices in vehicles.

Source: Daily Tech, "First-ever 'distracted guidelines' issued by NHTSA," Tiffany Kaiser, Feb. 17, 2012

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