Last month, we issued proposed guidelines for automakers to limit the distraction risk for in-vehicle electronic systems. But before those guidelines take their final form, we've invited the public to weigh in and let us know what they think. This process will ensure that we hear a number of different perspectives, and today the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration held the first of three public hearings on this important safety issue.
NHTSA Administrator David Strickland and Associate NHTSA Administrator for Applied Research John Maddox listened to several different panelists offering their assessment of the proposed guidelines and their ideas for an effective approach to reducing driver distraction.
In fact, the need to reduce driver distraction was never questioned by the experts at this morning's hearing, and that's good news. Slowly but surely, Americans have come to realize the dangers distracted driving poses on our roadways.
Unfortunately, consumers want increasingly sophisticated communications features in their vehicles, and automakers want to meet that demand. So our task is to make sure that the modern vehicle is a zone of safety where drivers can stay connected as safely as possible.
To build a safety standard for the vehicles on America's roads, we need a firm foundation of what goes into a vehicle, and that's where NHTSA's real-world guidelines come in. As Administrator Strickland said today, "The guidance we're offering automakers will help them develop the electronic systems that today's consumer expects and without sacrificing safety."
And safety is what we're all about.
Today's conversation is a terrific step forward in our pursuit of safer driving. But a set of guidelines for in-vehicle communications technologies is only one step in a holistic, multi-phase process that will also look at guidelines for portable devices.
We look forward to continuing today's conversation with automakers, device manufacturers, safety advocates, and others.
Want to learn more about in-car gadgets and safety? Please read my op-ed for The Hill.