NHTSA Unveils New Distracted Driver Guidelines, Places Limits On Car Touchscreens (VIDEO)

Apr 23, 2013 04:16 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

U.S. traffic safety regulators released new guidelines today, April 23, designed to help keep drivers from being too distracted by in-car touchscreens while out on the road according to the Associated Press.

Drivers will be limited to six screen touches in 12 seconds, which will reduce the time they're allowed to take their eyes off the road. Also mentioned in the guidelines is a ban on manual text entry and display of websites, social media, books, and other distractions while the vehicle is in drive.

"Distracted driving is unsafe, irresponsible. It can have devastating consequences," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who announced the guidelines along with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator David Strickland. The officials told reporters on a conference call that NHTSA has determined that over 3,000 people were killed in crashes that involved distracted driving in 2011 and more than 387,000 were hurt.

The NHTSA stated that the guidelines are voluntary, for now, as major automotive companies won't have to worry about incorporating them for three years, up from the initially proposed two years according to the Detroit Free Press.

The NHTSA also mentioned that while it is acceptable to display maps or location information, the agency does not recommend displaying "photorealistic" images or 3D images while driving according to the Associated Press.

The current guidelines indicate that a driver can go at least 5 mph, with up to 10 screen touches in 20 seconds with a drivers eyes off the road. This increases the chance of a driver getting into an accident by a significant amount, something the NHTSA has dedicated a lot of time and effort towards changing.

Two more phases to address specific cellphone manufacturers will be released at a later time.

"The new guidelines and our ongoing work with our state partners across the country will help us put an end to the dangerous practice of distracted driving by limiting the amount of time drivers take their eyes off the road," said Strickland at the announcement.

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