At DOT, we have been working hard for three years to get America's drivers to put away their electronic devices when they get behind the wheel. During that time, in-vehicle communication systems--another source of driver distraction--have emerged and grown ever more popular.
As an organization focused on safety, including safety on our roadways, we want to make sure these new systems don't take eyes or hands away from the only task that matters when you're in the driver's seat: driving safely.
So today we proposed the first-ever federal guidelines to encourage automobile manufacturers to limit the distraction risk for these in-vehicle electronic devices. The proposed guidelines are voluntary and would apply to communications, entertainment, information gathering, and navigation devices or functions that are built into the vehicle and are not required to safely operate the vehicle.
The guidelines we've proposed in this first phase are based on common sense, and we're asking automakers to exercise their own common sense as they design these systems.
We've had a productive history of working with automakers to keep the focus on safety, and voluntary guidelines like those issued today can be very effective. For example, Americans benefited when we issued safety recommendations about matching the front end structural elements of light trucks and SUVs with those of passenger cars. So, as NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said, "We recognize that vehicle manufacturers want to build vehicles that include the tools and conveniences expected by today’s American drivers.”
But, our number one concern is--and always will be--the safety of American transportation. And these guidelines are a major step forward in identifying real solutions to tackle the dangerous problem of distracted driving for drivers of all ages. We owe the drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians on our roadways no less.