Feds Propose Next Step in Fight Against Distracted Driving

In mid-February 2011, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the next move the federal government will take in its fight against distracted driving: technology that limits drivers' ability to become distracted by electronic devices like cell phones and navigation systems.

Talking about the moves his agency has made to fight distracted driving and related motor vehicle accidents, Secretary LaHood was quoted by Thomson Reuters as saying: "Distracted driving is a dangerous and deadly habit on America's roadways - that's why I've made it a priority to encourage people to stay focused behind the wheel."

The proposed guidelines would ask automobile manufactures to install technology that disable drivers' ability to send or receive text messages, browse the Internet, access social media such as Twitter and Facebook, dial 10-digit phone numbers, and enter information into global positioning systems (GPS) or navigation systems. This proposed regulation only applies to drivers, however, not passengers.

In discussing the proposed rules, according to the Washington Post, Secretary LaHood stated: "These guidelines are a major step forward in identifying real solutions to tackle the issue of distracted driving for drivers of all ages."

According to information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 5,500 people were fatally injured and approximately 448,000 more were injured in accidents involving distracted drivers. These numbers translate to 16 percent of fatal accidents involving a distracted driver in 2009.

Responding to the proposed rules, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said that hands-free technology is designed to promote safety by helping drivers' eyes stay on the road. The agency also said that making sure new technology is safely integrated and adapted into automobiles is the solution to the problem.

Distracted driving accidents can result in crippling injuries; speak with an experienced personal injury attorney if you've been involved in an accident with a distracted driver.