My first car was a 1972 Ford Maverick. It had crank windows, an in-line 4 cylinder engine, and a push button radio. It was a medium blue and had been repaired after being in a wreck. Paint could be seen in the wheel wells where it hadn’t been taped off well. The dashboard was as basic as the car. It only had a speedometer, gas gauge, and temperature gauge.
A friend of mine had a 1964 Pontiac GTO with an aftermarket tachometer installed that rested on the dashboard. We loved to watch the needle jump when he’d rev the engine and shifted gears.
Cars and their dashboards have come a long way since then. There are digital dashboards, in-dash GPS or Garmin’s mounted on your windshield, places to plug in your MP3 player or smart phone, as well as blue tooth systems that connect your phone to the car to make phone calls. Add to this the recent introduction of internet connectivity within the car to enable web surfing and distracted driving takes on a whole new level.
I love the technological advances we’re seeing in cars, trucks and SUVs, but also understand there’s concern about distracted driving as we seek to pack as much productivity into each day we have. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced in 2012 it would begin hearings to help develop voluntary guidelines for manufacturers related to dashboard design. The issue is how to reduce distractions when a car is moving.
The proposed guidelines for Phase 1 include:
- Reduce complexity and task length required by the device
- Limit device operation to only one hand (leaving the other hand on the wheel to control driving)
- Limit individual off-road glances required for device operation to no more than two seconds in duration
- Limit unnecessary visual information in the driver’s field of view
- Limit the amount of manual inputs require for device operation
In addition, the NHTSA recommended the disabling of the operations by in-vehicle electronic devices while driving, unless the devices are intended for use by passengers and cannot reasonably be accessed or seen by the driver unless the vehicle is stopped and in park. Those recommendations include:
- Visual-manual text messaging
- Visual-manual internet browsing
- Visual-manual social media browsing
- Visual-manual navigation system destination entry by address
- Visual-manual 10 digit phone dialing
- Displaying to the driver more than 30 characters of text unrelated to the task of driving
NHTSA is also considering a future Phase 2 proposal which would address systems that aren’t built into the vehicle but are brought into the vehicle and used while driving including:
- Portable navigation systems
- Smart phones
- Electronic tablets & pads
- Other mobile communication devices
Also under consideration is a third phase which may address voice-activated controls in factory-installed, aftermarket and portable devices. If only they can get Ford to fix SYNC or Siri to understand what I mean and not what I say!
Will these guidelines make driving less distracted and safer for drivers in Dallas, Houston, Texas and the rest of the nation? What are your thoughts? Share your thoughts or suggestions in the comments section of our blog or on our Facebook page! We’ll create a list and send it to the NHTSA for consideration!