NHTSA Proposes Adding “Driver Mode” to Cellphones

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued proposed guidelines that it says will help to reduce accidents and fatalities attributable to distracted driving.

Issued just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, the voluntary guidance calls on electronics manufacturers to modify their devices to include a “driver mode” that would block certain features and applications from being accessed by a driver when a vehicle is in motion. Regulators see the recommended modification as similar to the “airplane mode” feature available on most electronic devices, which blocks wireless signals that can interfere with a plane’s operation during flight.

NHTSA experts believe that distractions due to the use of electronic devices while driving, including talking and texting, is an important contributor to the more than 10 percent increase in the number of highway deaths reported during the first half of 2016. By comparison, traffic fatalities in the U.S. rose at an annual rate of 7.1 percent in 2015, the largest annual percentage of increase in 50 years.

NHTSA is accepting written comments on its proposed guidance.

Read the complete text of the NHTSA’s press release on its proposed voluntary guidance document.

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