NHTSA’s Battle Against Distracted Driving

Apr 26

We all have that one friend in the group—the one that is our voice of reason that makes suggestions. It’s never something we necessarily are required to do, but we feel guilty not doing them. That’s NHTSA’s roll in the driving world. They, along with the Department of Transportation (DOT), have made a whopping 281-page guideline report in regards to make it impossible for you to check social media, streamline videos, or text.

Keep in mind, these guidelines are simply that—recommendations. These are not requirements. As of right now, it is not law for automakers to follow this proposal. However, the outspoken transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, is determined to cease distracted driving.

“Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic that has devastating consequences on our nation’s roadways,” stated LaHood. “These guidelines recognize that today’s drivers appreciate technology, while providing automakers with a way to balance the innovation consumers want with the safety we all need. Combined with good laws, good enforcement and good education, these guidelines can save lives.”

In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Guidelines, you can find the list of activities that are considered to be a distraction to drivers. Some of these include:

  • Automatically scrolling text
  • Any text from books, web pages, social media, periodical publications, text-based advertising and marketing or other text-based messages
  • Videos unrelated to driving
  • Manual text entry, such as text messaging and Internet browsing
  • Certain images, such as photographs or other graphical images

As you can tell, these are items you would expect to see in such a proposal. However, I’m sure not all automakers will be too thrilled about all of these suggestions. Amongst the 281 pages of the NHTSA Guidelines, you can read about how they would like you to avoid photorealistic or 3D images for navigation. Car manufacturers such as Ford and Audi have been working on this form of navigation within recent years and most likely won’t want to backtrack.

Also, the Auto Alliance, which represents a dozen automakers, such as Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Toyota, is already showing dissatisfaction and are upset that consumer electronics was not posted.

“Drivers want that function in their dashboard systems and we think it makes sense to provide it as a means of discouraging drivers from using hand-held phone as GPS systems,” stated the Auto Alliance. “Our concern is that limiting built-in systems without simultaneously addressing portable devices could result in drivers choosing not to connect their phones in order to access the functionality they want.”

Makes sense. According to NHTSA themselves, the statement above can increase the risk of a crash by three (3) times.

Where this proposal will head in the future, we are unaware. We do know that according to a report in Automotive News the proposals are fully implemented and NHTSA is also considering adding this to the New Car Assessment Program. Doing this would encourage automakers to abide by these suggestions if they want to keep their five-star safety rating or gain one. All we can do now is address any concern, as the guidelines have been released to the open public.


  1. Good post, i will share with my friends.

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