Feds Urge Smartphone Makers to Help Fight Distracted Driving
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) faces an uphill battle against distracted driving. Deadly car accidents are on the rise, and electronic distractions – apps, social media, and texting behind the wheel – are to blame.
Car accident fatalities are at their highest since 2009, and 2016 has seen a nearly 10% jump over last year. Insurance companies and safety experts point to driver distraction as the most likely culprit. And it’s easy to see why. In a world where we are almost never disconnected from our phones, many smartphone apps are practically designed for use while driving. To see what an epidemic distracted driving has become, simply look to your left or right when stuck at a traffic light, observes Nick Kurczewski at Cars.com. You will more than likely see one of your fellow drivers looking down at their phone.
Safety officials issue guidelines, face opposition from tech companies
If tech created the problem, can tech also fix it? In their latest effort to combat this problem, the NHTSA seeks the help of smartphone makers themselves. Safety officials issued a set of voluntary guidelines for smartphone manufacturers and app developers. For example, developing a “driver mode” that would limit device functionality and block certain features when a car is in drive.
Smartphone companies have not embraced the guidelines. Gary Shapiro of the Consumer Technology Association says that NHTSA has far overstepped its boundaries and calls the guidelines “extreme.” He maintains that NHTSA jurisdiction does not extend beyond automotive technology. However, the line between vehicle and smart device technology has become increasingly blurred. Tech giants Apple and Google have been developing automotive products for years. Automobiles are increasingly high-tech and can sync with our mobile and smart devices, making multi-tasking all the more comfortable.
On the other hand, the National Safety Council, and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) say the NHTSA proposal doesn’t go far enough. The NTSB, the group responsible for major accident investigations, prefers a total ban on mobile device use while driving.
The best way to avoid distracted driving is, of course, to simply put the phone away. While government entities and safety advocates argue about the best way to cut down on distracted driving deaths, each driver has the power to take responsibility into their own hands and drive distraction-free.
If you were involved in a car accident with a distracted driver, our Scranton car accident lawyer can help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.
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