Auto Alliance Response to NHTSA Voluntary Guidelines to Minimize In-Vehicle Distractions

April 23, 2013

The Auto Alliance has these comments in response to NHTSA's announcement today.

"NHTSA and automakers share the same goal: drivers need to keep their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and connect their mobile phones to the built-in car systems. Portable phones and navigation devices are everywhere, and consumers are using these devices in their vehicles. We need all the stakeholders engaged and working together to find a way to keep our society connected as safely as possible. Pairing mobile phones with our built-in systems designed for driving is a top priority.

"Automakers commend the NHTSA Administrator for recognizing the importance of hands-free technology, and we also commend NHTSA for supporting the use of dynamic mapping for navigation screens. Drivers want that function in their dashboard systems, and we think it makes sense to provide it as a means of discouraging drivers from using hand-held phones as GPS systems.

"NHTSA did limit collective task times. Our concern is that limiting built-in systems without simultaneously addressing portable devices could result in drivers choosing not to connect their phones in order to access the functionality they want. That would be a troubling outcome, given the NHTSA finding announced today that visual-manual tasks associated with hand-held phones and other portable devices increase crash risk by three times.

"NHTSA data indicate that 98% of distraction-related accidents are due to factors other than use of the built-in system. These guidelines only address the vehicle-integrated systems for which there are existing voluntary guidelines. The 98% of distraction-related accidents still need to be addressed. We urge NHTSA to move quickly with a more comprehensive approach including mobile devices."