NHTSA Releases New Distracted Driving Guidelines As Data Presents A Very Different Picture
As part of their campaign against “distracted driving”, NHTSA has released new voluntary guidelines governing the use of in-car infotainment systems.
Among the core of the recommendations, as reported by Automotive News
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration specifically recommended disabling several operations unless a vehicle is stopped and in park:
• Manual text entry for the purposes of text messaging and internet browsing
• Video-based entertainment and communications such as video phoning or video conferencing
• Displaying certain types of text, including text messages, Web pages, and social-media content
Also recommended are guidelines for how many times drivers can touch a screen within a set time limit (6 touches for 12 seconds) to change things like the radio station or temperature.
Meanwhile, Juan Barnett over at DC Auto Geek has been compiling data on “distracted driving” for some time now, and when one really dives into it, it’s clear that cell phones and hand-held devices are really a minor issue in the grand scheme of things. Barnett previously lent TTAC a handy infographic that breaks down the causes behind “distracted driving”, while a recent g uest post at Jalopnik provides a more in-depth examination of NHTSA’s own data.
Barnett shows that NHTSA’s data is full of vague catch-all categories, but the number of distracted driving events related to cell-phone use could be as high as 12 percent at best – and that’s when all cell phone category events are aggregated. Texting, as a specific category, accounts for just 1 percent of all distracted driving events. 39 Americans died from texting and driving in 2011, while 45 Americans died from syphilis, a disease that is generally considered a non-entity.
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My new car has a touch screen (2012 Camry SE) and after learning the basics of how to use it, I found that using the touch screen while driving distracted me a lot more than I liked, and I was just changing the damn radio station! Old cars you had 5 pre-sets and could feel the buttons and knew where each one was. I switched to using the steering wheel controls, much better and I use blue tooth when I need to call anyone. Another point someone mentioned was the one about medical science being able to keep you alive now where as years ago it was the eternal nap. I'm not suggesting we go back to bleeding or anything, but, my own father was "saved" after a major heart attack. He was almost 93 and had terminal pancreatic cancer. After a week in the hospital, he suffered 20 days in a skilled nursing home, dying a little each day. I know, I went to see him every single day. He was angry and wanted to die, I told him the doctors saved his life after the heart attack - he replied, they didn't do me any favor. He was right, if we'd left him alone he'd have passed away in his own bed and that would have been that. The last month of his life was horrible, expensive and useless. At some point, we need to figure out that quality of life means a lot more than quantity. And yes, if I'm ever in a bad crash - please, if I'm fucked up, just let me die. I have no desire to be a burden on my family and besides, they could use the insurance money.
How did they compile these stats? I sincerely doubt most people would admit to texting or talking on the phone while driving. If the cops or another car were involved in the accident they would certainly not admit to it to avoid being blamed for the accident by the cops or insurance companies.