Feds want automakers to stop adding technology that can distract drivers

Article by Christian Andrei, on September 24, 2010

The federal government aims to put a stop to the trend in vehicles that enable drivers to surf the Internet while driving. US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has called a meeting with automakers to urge them to stop developing devices that would distract drivers.

He said that he aims to develop new guidelines for vehicle telematics. LaHood made these remarks last Tuesday during the second national distracted-driving summit. LaHood, who considers this endeavor as a personal crusade, said, “Put safety before entertainment.”

He didn’t cite a specific automaker or telematics system and he also didn’t provide a timetable for the guidelines. But he would have to act fast.

Earlier this month, GM's OnStar said that it will offer customers the ability to dictate text messages and make voice-activated connections to social-networking sites. Meanwhile, Ford's Sync system offers hand-free communications, which include the feature of having e-mailed messages read aloud.

Last Tuesday, the federal government also announced the results of two pilot programs that were established to test if high-visibility enforcement campaigns to prevent distracted driving are effective. LaHood said, “It works."

The programs are existing in Hartford, Connecticut, and Syracuse, New York and its campaigns are dubbed "Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other." In the two week-period of stepped-up enforcement, Hartford police have so far handed out 4,956 tickets and Syracuse police have given out 4,446 tickets for violations involving drivers talking or texting on cell phones. [via Inside Line]

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