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US Attempting to Curb Driver Distraction by Limiting In-Dash Electronics

Many cars now come equipped with in-dash electronics comparable to what you can find in most home offices - motorists are now able access the internet, update Twitter and Facebook, text message, dial their phone and use GPS navigation, all without needing to leave the driver's seat. However, the federal government is now taking aim at in-dash electronics in an effort to rein in on distracted driving and bring drivers' attention back to the road.

Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed recommendations for automakers to design dashboard electronics so that distracting applications and devices are automatically disabled for the driver while the car is moving. The types of apps likely to be restricted would be text messaging, internet surfing and access to social media.

These guidelines are an attempt to impact the driving habits of younger motorists' - motorists who more likely to be influenced by wireless technology. According to a statement by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, "Distracted driving is a dangerous and deadly habit on America's roadways - that's why I've made it a priority to encourage people to stay focused behind the wheel."

To illustrate LaHood's point, the most recent data available attributed 3,092 traffic deaths to distracted driving in 2010 - which accounted for around 10 percent of all traffic deaths during the same period.

Automakers say they will review the proposed guidelines, but were quick to point out that many elements of the government proposal were similar to their own, already established, industry practices. Moreover, the hands-free technology incorporated into the in-dash electronics were originally designed by automakers so drivers could keep their attention on the road.

Source: Reuters, "US seeks limits on electronic driver distractions," John Crawley, Feb. 17, 2012

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