Distracted Driving legislation looming

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The US Department of Transport has released a series of voluntary guidelines it hopes car-makers will adhere to so that social media integration, such as Facebook and Twitter, will not distract a driver, who needs full attention at all times.

The guidelines include recommendations to limit the time drivers take their eyes off the road to perform any task to two seconds at a time, and 12 seconds in total.

Driver distractions.Driver distractions.

It also wants several functions disabled unless the car is stopped, including manual text entry, video phoning and videoconferencing, and the display of text, including text messages, web pages and content from social media.

“Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic that has devastating consequences on our nation’s roadways,” said US transportation secretary Ray LaHood while announcing the guidelines.

“These guidelines recognize that today’s drivers appreciate technology, while providing automakers with a way to balance the innovation consumers want with the safety we all need.  Combined with good laws, good enforcement and good education, these guidelines can save lives.”  (With the requirements being “good laws, good enforcement and good education”, we will never see that here!)

GM has its MyLink entertainment system that piggybacks off a smartphone’s internet connection to provide a range of mobile phone-like applications inside the car.

This system can include streaming music, internet-based radio stations, and even navigation functions.  While it does allow drivers to update their Facebook page on the run, it uses an Apple iPhone-based voice-to-text recognition system to update a driver’s status on the internet.

Voice control is a key feature of the MyLink system and it has been developed around ensuring that the drivers maintains their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.