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Safety Over Sales in Curbing Distracted Driving

The Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board called out the makers of electronic products that contribute to distracted driving for putting sales figures over the safety of their consumers. In December, the NTSB called for a complete ban on cell phone use while driving in an effort to reduce car accidents caused by distracted driving. The focus on technology producers follows an announcement by Intel Corp. that it will be devoting significant resources to furthering its "vehicle infotainment" line of technology products. The issue is among several being discussed at the distracted-driving forum in Washington D.C.

The NTSB and the U.S. Department of Transportation have placed distracted driving at the top of the agenda as a safety priority. A primary contributor to distracted driving is the proliferation of gadgets that vie for the attention of drivers. The Transportation Department has already released a set of guidelines it would like automakers to follow regarding built-in technologies such as GPS, digital music players, DVD players, tools to access Facebook and Twitter, and more. Those guidelines would limit the amount of time it would take a driver to use built-in technology, as well as limit which gadgets would operate while the car was in motion.

Intel responded by pointing out that some of its investment was geared toward accelerating "innovation for driver and passenger safety." Tools such as cameras, sensors and driver assistance technology represent ways in which gadgets can improve safety. The concern of the NTSB Chairman focused on the notion that cars should be tools for multitasking.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 10 percent of the fatal accidents in 2010 were related to driver distraction. By pressuring the makers of in-car entertainment technology, the NTSB and the U.S. Department of Transportation are hoping to reduce that number in the future.

Source: The Washington Post, "Gadgets share blame for distracted driving, NTSB chief says," by Angela Greiling Keane, 27 March 2012

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