Here's a way to lessen the chance that you'll crash.
One major reason that the holiday season is such a lethal time of year on American roads, aside from the fact that there are simply more cars on the road and the obvious change in road conditions, is that drivers are more likely to be driving home after drinking at a holiday party or texting their loved ones while behind the wheel. Research has found that distracted driving is as dangerous as driving drunk, but given that rates of distracted driving are increasing while drunk driving is on the decline, smartphones are the new target.
Unfortunately, the NHTSA knows it’s fighting a losing battle. Distracted driving doesn’t carry the same stigma that drunk driving does so passengers are less likely to speak up about the issue. This has caused the NHTSA to react by releasing voluntary guidelines that prompt both the automotive and smartphone industry to create technology to mitigate the distractions caused by smartphone use. The first phase of the NHTSA’s voluntary guidelines was released in 2013 and was aimed at car manufactures, calling for them to install infotainment systems designed to keep driver’s eyes off of the screen as much as possible. The second set of guidelines was released today and targets smartphone manufacturers and app developers.
In 2015 there were 3,477 traffic fatalities that were directly attributed to distracted driving. In order to put a dent in those numbers, the NHTSA is asking smartphone manufacturers to voluntarily code software that enables phones to be paired with in-car systems and made accessible using the infotainment’s inference. When connected, features like texting, video playback, or Internet browsing would be disabled. App developers are also included in this call to action. The transportation authority is asking them to program apps that offer simplified functions when in a moving car. As with the regulations implemented to fight drunk driving, these guidelines may not do away with the problem, but any life saved is a win.