Each year, thousands of people across the U.S. are seriously injured in accidents caused by distracted drivers, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued guidelines calling for cell phone manufacturers and automakers to work towards developing paired systems and driver modes that would prevent drivers from accessing their cell phones while they drive. The NHTSA issued its guidelines in reaction to the problems caused by drivers looking away from the road to read text messages, send texts, look at photos or videos, read scrolling text or access social media. If the guidelines are implemented, drivers would be unable to read their screens so that they would not be tempted to look at their phones while they drive. A Lake County car accident lawyer often encounters cases involving drivers who were using smartphones when they caused injury accidents.
Distracted Driving Statistics
According to Distraction.gov, in 2014, 431,000 people were injured and 3,179 people were killed in accidents in the U.S. that were caused by distracted drivers. Drivers who were between the ages of 15 and 19 had the largest percentage who were distracted at the time of fatal accidents at 10 percent. Thirty-eight percent of drivers who were distracted by cell phone use at the time of fatal accidents were in their 20s. An estimated 660,000 people are using cell phones while driving every minute of each day.
The Proposed Guidelines
The NHTSA’s guidelines are voluntary, meaning that the manufacturers are not required to implement them. The agency is calling for manufacturers to work to develop in-vehicle systems that could pair with smartphones. When the drivers are driving, the systems would prevent the drivers from being able to read their screens. Since some phones would unable to be paired, the NHTSA has alternatively proposed that cell phone manufacturers develop a driver mode that is similar to the airplane mode that is on many phones. With the driver mode, drivers would be unable to access many of the features of their cell phones. They would not be able to look at photos or videos, see text messages or send them, access the internet or social media or read scrolling text. The recommendations call for these systems and modes to be manually turned on.
While the guidelines are voluntary, they may later be made mandatory. A Lake County car accident lawyer believes that systems to prevent driver access to smartphones are a good idea.