DOT Looks to Ban Social Media, Touch Screens in New Vehicles

In an effort to reduce the rising toll of car accidents caused by distracted driving, U.S. regulators have issued guidelines for automakers. The Transportation Department's guidelines want to limit and prevent drivers from becoming distracted when using social media sites and in-car touch screens.

The guidelines propose that automakers ban the use of Internet browsing and social media sites on a cellphone while a vehicle is moving to prevent car accidents caused by distracted driving. The guidelines also say the use of in-car touch screens should be limited so drivers are not taking their eyes off the road for more than two seconds when making a selection and 12 seconds to complete an entire task.

The Transportation Department issued the guidelines to crack down on distracted driving caused by the increased use of technology behind the wheel. The government guidelines want vehicles to be stopped or parked before a driver can use social media. While the guidelines are aimed at reducing distracted driving, they would only apply to new vehicles and would start in three years.

Public safety advocates applauded the guidelines, saying that this is a step in the right direction to prevent distracted driving accidents. However, automakers are not as pleased with the guidelines. They say that social media and technological devices should be only be banned when a vehicle is travelling at higher-speeds. They also want the government to address the use of cellphones and other devices that are not installed in the vehicle because a majority of distracted driving accidents are not caused by in-car technologies like touch screen devices.

Reports show that distracted driving caused more than 3,300 fatalities on U.S. roads in 2011, and more than 387,000 injuries. While not everyone is pleased with the proposed guidelines, the Transportation Department says that it could help reduce car accidents.

Source: Businessweek, "Carmakers Urged to Ban U.S. In-Car Facebook and Twitter Use," Angela Greiling Keane, April 23, 2013

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