Traffic Collision Reduction Goal of Federal Infotainment Guidelines

Federal regulators are hoping to reduce the number of car accident injuries in Maine and throughout the country by introducing auto manufacturer guidelines on infotainment centers that will hopefully cut down on driver distractions.
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Bangor car accident lawyers know that distraction is one of the top causes of serious and fatal crashes, and one of the driving forces are the electronics that are built into our vehicles. These include navigation features, Facebook access, digital music databases, internal WiFi, in-dash voice-activated calling and rear-view camera systems.

When they’re at their best, these devices can serve to reduce distraction levels by limiting the amount of attention we pay to handheld devices. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that too often, these high-tech offerings are in themselves becoming a distraction. That’s why the administration is requesting a voluntary adoption that would restrict systems that requires drivers to push buttons or otherwise manually input information into the built-in systems while the vehicle is moving. Preferably, those systems would be voice-activated.

The ultimate goal with the new rules would be to ensure drivers aren’t taking their eyes off the road for intervals greater than two seconds. Aside from quick glances, the administration holds that no task should consume more than 12 seconds.

Even that, we believe, is really pushing it. A vehicle traveling 55 miles per hour for 12 seconds will cover about 1,000 feet. That is nearly three football fields in length. There is a lot of damage one can do in the span of three football fields while traveling at 55 miles per hour.

A recent study showed that text messaging typically required drivers to tear their eyes from the road for an average of 24 seconds, tripling and sometimes quadrupling the risk of an accident.

The guidelines presented by the NHTSA are based on those that were drawn up by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which pledged support to the goal of reducing distracted driving.

Still, it could be several years before the new measures are fully adopted and integrated. The agency said it did explore making the guidelines mandatory, but said it would require more study to determine whether compliance could be uniformly evaluated.

However, some manufacturers may be ahead of the curve. Honda, for example, hasn’t allowed addresses to be typed into navigation systems of moving vehicles since last year. BMW doesn’t allow video displays in moving vehicles, though it does allow data to be input manually.

So far, the NHTSA hasn’t indicated there would be any penalty for auto makers that don’t comply, to the dismay of the Consumers Union, which is the advocacy division of Consumer Reports. However, the potential for liability in civil litigation could be enough to prod them into action. If a personal injury attorney could prove that a driver crashed while operating a navigation system in a moving vehicle in a newer model after the guidelines were recommended, that could be grounds for manufacturer liability.

If you are the victim of a Bangor car accident, contact us at 1-800-804-2004 or read more on our website.

Additional Resources:
5 frustrating car infotainment interfaces, April 22, 2013, By Bengt Halvorson

More Blog Entries:
Maine Texting Ban May Not Be Well-Enforced, Report Says, May 12, 2013, Bangor Car Accident Lawyer Blog