Distracted Driving Still A Priority For NHTSA

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration remains committed to the battle against distracted driving, according to top official David Strickland. The NHTSA Chief suggested that one day the organization would have a national program to deal with distracted driving similar to the programs implemented to address drunk driving and the importance of seat belt use. Some had questioned if the commitment to distracted driving as a safety issue would remain in place after Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced his impending retirement. Secretary LaHood made distracted driving something of a personal crusade during his time in the role.

The NHTSA has played a strong role in changing how drinking and driving and seat belts were perceived. Stricter laws, information and public relations campaigns have changed how those issues are viewed. The NHTSA may be hoping that distracted driving follows a similar path.

Part of the NHTSA plan to tackle distracted driving is developing a set of voluntary guidelines for automakers. In-vehicle devices, including navigation, telephone, and Internet capabilities, may distract drivers and lead to accidents. The NHTSA is hoping to establish guidelines that will allow drivers access to the latest technology without sacrificing safety.

Few states had laws against texting and driving just a few short years ago. Now, the vast majority of states have such laws and enforcement is on the rise. Cell phones have been connected to thousands of accidents and the spread of these devices has been blamed for the rise in distracted driving. The NHTSA has stated that it intends to continue the fight against distracted driving and make traveling by car safer for everyone.

Source: The Detroit News, “Distracted driving to remain post-LaHood NHTSA focus,” by David Shepardson, 31 January 2013

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