Monday, March 26, 2012

DOT Driver Distraction Guidelines

Photo courtesy of USDOT
A little over a month ago the DOT released its draft guidelines for In-Vehicle Electronic Devices. The guidelines, which are voluntary for now, include several key recommendations:

1. Prohibit certain tasks while driving, including displaying images or video not related to driving; displaying automatically scrolling text; requiring manual text entry of more than six button or key presses during a single task; or requiring reading more than 30 characters of text (not counting punctuation marks).

2. Design devices so that tasks can be completed by the driver while driving with glances away from the roadway of 2 seconds or less and a cumulative time spent glancing away from the roadway of 12 seconds or less.

3. Design devices so that functions designed to be performed by the driver through visual-manual means should require no more than one of the driver’s hands to operate.

4. Locate devices as close as practicable to the driver’s forward line of sight and include a specific recommendation for the maximum downward viewing angle to the geometric center of each display.

Is this enough to keep us safe on the roads? Given that a key problem with in-vehicle devices is cognitive distaction, not visual distraction, these guidelines might not go far enough. Personally, I've given up many in-vehicle distractions (like talking on my cell phone--even hands free), regardless of what the law tells me I can or can't do.

Tell the DOT what you think of their proposed rules by following the instructions here.  

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