Alliance Initiative Recognized in Proposed Distracted Driving Guidelines

February 16, 2012

Ten years of work on our driver focus guidelines have resulted in NHTSA using them as the foundation for the government’s proposed program. Today NHTSA praised the Alliance for showing initiative in developing these guidelines. The Federal Register Notice says:

“To facilitate the development of guidelines, NHTSA studied the various existing guidelines relating to driver distraction prevention and reduction and found the ‘Statement of Principles, Criteria and Verification Procedures on Driver-Interactions with Advanced In-Vehicle Information and Communication Systems’ developed by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers to be the most complete and up-to-date. The Alliance Guidelines provided valuable input in current NHTSA efforts to address driver distraction issues. While NHTSA drew heavily on that input in developing the NHTSA Guidelines, it did incorporate a number of changes in an effort to further enhance driving safety, enhance guideline usability, improve implementation consistency, and incorporate the latest driver distraction research findings.”

The Alliance is pleased to receive this recognition from NHTSA for creating thorough, effective guidelines. Moreover, the agency decided to retain “the two-second rule” for vehicle tasks, which was the heart of the guidelines developed by automakers a decade ago. In 2002, voluntary safety guidelines to enhance driver focus when using telematics were developed by the Alliance, the Society of Automotive Engineers, the Consumers Electronics Association, AAA and other groups. These safety guidelines have been updated twice in the past decade.

We will be reviewing the guidelines to provide further input on their development. Keeping eyes on the road and hands on the wheel is clearly the priority. Digital technology has created a connected culture in America that has forever changed our society. Consumers expect to have access to new technology, so integrating and adapting this technology to enable safe driving is the solution. Drivers are going to have conversations, listen to music and read maps while driving, and automakers are helping them do this more safely with integrated hands-free systems that help drivers focus on the road.

Consumer education is also critical, and the Alliance is currently joining with its partner, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, on a national effort. This week, in fact, a major education program is under way at the Chicago Auto Show. Visit www.DecideToDrive.org for more information on this program committed to enhancing driver focus.

Mobile phones are ubiquitous today. Only China and India have more cell phones than the United States. About 90 percent of Americans own a cell phone, amounting to 280 million cell phones nationwide; by contrast, there are 245 million cars in the U.S. Unlike nomadic devices brought into a vehicle, automaker-integrated features are designed for use in the driving environment. When a device is integrated into an automobile’s driver-vehicle interfaces (including visual displays and speakers) it is designed to be used in a way that helps the driver keep his eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.