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Feds close to finalizing driver safety guidelines for smartphone manufacturers

We all know how distracting smartphones can be. Yet while they pose an almost unlimited potential for distraction and danger, smartphones can tell us where we are, where we are going, and link to a car's Bluetooth system for hands-free dialing. Simply put, smartphones are evolving to work within vehicles. They are not going away.

Too often, however, the devices are not used optimally for safety. For example, in some newer model vehicles the driver can hear the navigation on the phone telling him or her to turn left over the car's speaker system. Compared to having one hand on the wheel, one hand on your phone and glancing down to see when the turn is approaching, the reduction in danger is obvious.

Increasing safety with new technology in mind

Because simply eliminating smartphones is not an option, feds are attempting to help manufacturers of portable and after-market devices decrease distracted driving. The guidelines are aimed at smartphone and portable device manufacturers such as GPS navigation attached to vehicles after they are sold.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been taking comments on its proposed guidelines. Public commenting on the guidelines will end in early February, at which time the NHTSA will reassess and begin creating its final guidelines.

These NHTSA guidelines are not laws. They are voluntary suggestions provided to electronic manufacturers about best practices. For example, the NHTSA is suggesting that some of these systems have automatic shut-off features while the driver is operating the vehicle.

Will technological advances result in fewer injuries and deaths?

While there has been a lot of talk recently about self-driving cars, realistically a world of autonomous vehicles is still a long way away. In the meanwhile, drivers are responsible for using the technology in their car, and in their pocket, responsibly. The failure to do so can lead to serious injury.

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