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Department of Transportation Proposes New Guidelines to Limit Distractions by Phones

Department of Transportation

Facing rising numbers of individuals dying on US roads as a result of distracted drivers, the Department of Transportation has recently developed guidelines regarding how cell phone technology could be improved to reduce driver distraction. The voluntary guidelines have garnered a mixed reaction from the public, with safety groups being very much in favor of such limits, and cell phone manufacturers strongly opposed.

2015 was witness to a startling rise in the number of distraction-related roadway deaths in the US. An estimated 3,500 people, which constituted 10% of all those who died on the road in 2015, died in accidents where at least one driver was believed to have been distracted at the time of the crash. This is almost 9% more than the number of people killed in distraction-related collisions in 2014. The administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Mark Rosekind, noted that the body has long been committed to eliminating driver distraction and utilizing technology to do so. “NHTSA has long encouraged drivers to put down their phones and other devices, and just drive. With driver distraction one of the factors behind the rise of traffic fatalities, we are committed to working with the industry to ensure that mobile devices are designed to keep drivers’ eyes where they belong—on the road.”

In response to the rise in distraction-related deaths, the Department of Transportation released a set of guidelines for mobile phone carriers to use when designing phones and their operating systems in a way that would limit distractions. The guidelines suggest that phones which do not pair with a car’s in-vehicle entertainment system should have a setting called “driver mode” which might turn on automatically when a car was shifted into “drive” from “park.” The setting would bar video playback, manual text input, and certain apps such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter.

The proposal of the new guidelines is far from the first time that attempts have been made to curb distractions by using other forms of technology. In April, New York legislators introduced a potential law that would require any driver involved in a crash to hand their phone over to law enforcement at the scene of the crash so that the police officer could use a device known as the “textalyzer” to identify whether the phone was used in the moments before a crash. Around that time, the car insurance carrier State Farm patented a device that would poke drivers who appeared to be drowsy or distracted while behind the wheel.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a crash with a driver who was texting or talking on the phone while driving in Virginia, contact the Charlottesville personal injury lawyers at Buck, Toscano & Tereskerz for a consultation on your injury claim, at 434-977-7977.

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