Stop While You Do That! Feds Seek Tougher Distracted Driving Ban
February 17th, 2012
Forbes / David Coursey, Contributor
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood doesn’t want drivers tweeting, texting, browsing or dialing in an automobile that is in motion. So he’s proposed rules that would require automaker-installed devices to stop working whenever the wheels were moving. He says this will save lives.
This is mostly a laudable idea that doesn’t go far enough. If LaHood had guts, he’d make sure an impaired driver could never start an automobile in the first place.
Then he’d ban angry spouses, upsetting radio programs, screaming children, pets of all kinds, daydreaming and everything else that might take a driver’s attention from the road. Maybe if the decibel level inside the car rose above a set level, a ticket would automatically be issued to the driver and passengers for noisy driving.
What i really think is the new rules will merely slow sales of built-in electronics. Aftermarket electronics will be exempt from the ban and allow you to do whatever you want.
Still, with exemptions for speed dialing, 911 calls, and maybe for voice controls for GPS, I support LaHood’s proposal.
According to the Washington Post:
The new federal guidelines, published Thursday in the Federal Register and subject to a 60-day period of public comment, recommend that manufacturers make it impossible for drivers to perform many functions while a vehicle is in motion, including: to send or look at text messages; browse the Internet; tweet or use social media such as Facebook; enter information in navigation systems; enter 10-digit phone numbers; or receive any type of text information of more than 30 characters unrelated to driving.
Many of those things are stupid, unnecessary and should be illegal. But, how do we deal with passengers being allowed to do those things while someone else drives? Will a button that says, “I promise that I am not driving,” really stop drivers from doing whatever they want?
While LaHood is at it, perhaps he can make sure I don’t have to listen to someone else’s blaring music in my own car at stop lights. And limit the volume so drivers can hear my paramedic friends’ sirens enroute to a call. The combination of a loud car stereo and lots of noise-deadening insulation keeps drivers blissfully aware of the emergency rig right behind them.
We should concentrate on technology that notices when a driver is actually distracted and diverts their attention back to driving. We should also create better user interfaces that might improve driver attention rather than divert it.
And I know some kids who might be alive today if their car had been more intelligently able to react to an emergency manuever that rolled the vehicle into an irrigation canal.
We could also place accelerometers into all kinds of devices that would ask the user to confirm they weren’t driving when they started using the device while traveling about some set speed. Would it help? I wonder.
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