Guess what has caught the eye of the U.S. Transportation Department (DOT)? Distracted driving. The agency is calling for automakers to step up and restrict or ban texting, Facebook, Internet browsing, and other electronics in cars.
This comes as many new vehicles come with a variety of electronic options installed in their dashboard. These hands-free devices are often popular additions to vehicles. They are attractive options for car-buyers.
But these options can become fatal.
Distracted driving can lead to car accidents. Individuals who take their eyes of the road -- even for a split second -- could wind up hurt.
There were 3,092 individuals involved in car accidents related to distracted driving, according to the NHTSA. This accounts for 9.4% of fatalities on the road.
And it's possible that with more gadgets in cars, the number will only increase. There are 29% more new cars this year with smartphone and embedded-connectivity units in North America.
For now, the DOT is only urging for voluntary compliance. They believe this will net a faster impact compared with a compulsory rule, according to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
The rules will limit users' ability to key in addresses into navigation systems, input phone numbers, or "visual manual" text message unless the car is stopped, reports USA Today.
The NHTSA is fielding comments and input about their new regulations. The agency will be holding hearings nationwide.
One can only hope the new stance taken by the DOT will reduce distracted driving. However, it remains to be seen whether or not automakers will comply with the voluntary guidelines.
- US seeks limits on electronic driver distractions (Reuters)
- Distracted Driving (FindLaw)
- NHTSA: Distracted Driving Deaths at 'Epidemic' Level (FindLaw's Injured)
- Distracted Driving: Don't Eat and Drive (FindLaw's Injured)