US safety regulators want voluntary limits on touchscreens in cars

Traffic safety regulators in the United States are calling for automakers to voluntarily limit the usability of touchscreens inside of vehicles. The safety regulators believe that putting limits on how long drivers can use touchscreens inside their cars can help reduce distracted driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its voluntary guidelines this week.

The voluntary guidelines call for automakers to limit the amount of time it takes to perform a single function using a vehicles audiovisual system to 2 seconds. The voluntary regulations also call for automakers to limit drivers to a maximum of six screen touches in 12 seconds to reduce the amount of time drivers can take their eyes off the road. The NHTSA also calls for a ban on manual text entry and the display of websites, social media, books, and other distractions on touchscreens and vehicles while driving.

Interestingly, these voluntary regulations come right on the heels of a report published earlier this week showing that entering texts using voice to text services is no safer than entering text manually. The NHTSA wants to phase these voluntary rules into effect over the next three years. The extended rollout will allow automakers to make changes to their vehicle electronics systems according to regulators.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says that while the regulations are voluntary, the NHTSA will look into giving automakers incentives to comply. Under current guidelines in effect for the auto industry, drivers are allowed to read texts and perform other tasks on vehicle infotainment systems wildcards removing it under 5 mph. Current regulations also limit drivers to 10 screen touches for a total of 20 seconds with the drivers eyes off the road.

"The new guidelines and our ongoing work with our state partners across the country will help us put an end to the dangerous practice of distracted driving by limiting the amount of time drivers take their eyes off the road," Strickland said.

[via HearldNet]