The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released proposed guidelines to help fight against the danger of distracted drivers on the road due to the usage of electronic devices.
The announcement of the proposed guidelines, according to the NHTSA, is the second phase of the regulator's initiative to solve the problem of driver distraction in the United States. The first phase focused on the systems and devices included in vehicles as they are manufactured.
NHTSA Proposes "Driver Mode"
Under the proposed guidelines by the NHTSA, the regulator is calling for electronics manufacturers to add features to mobile devices that will lock drivers out from using apps and other functions while on the road.
The so-called "driver mode" will restrict the functionality of devices such as smartphones when it is detected that the user is driving. Only certain approved apps, such as those that provide information such as maps to drivers, will be allowed to be used while on the road.
"As millions of Americans take to the roads for Thanksgiving gatherings, far too many are put at risk by drivers who are distracted by their cellphones," said Anthony Foxx, the U.S. Transportation Secretary.
"Distraction is still a problem. Too many people are dying and being injured on our roadways," he added, as highway deaths in the United States for the first six months of the year climbed by 10.4 percent.
As such, the guidelines are calling for manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung to implement a "driver mode" in future versions of their smartphones and operating systems. The manufacturers are tasked with developing the technology that will determine if the mobile device is being used by a driver so that the other occupants of a moving vehicle will not be affected.
Electronics Industry Fires Back At Guidelines
The proposed guidelines by the NHTSA, however, was not well received by the electronics industry.
The Consumer Technology Association, a trade group that includes Apple and Samsung among its members, said that the proposal by the regulator is an extreme one and could prevent innovative driver-focused technologies that will help in making on-road decisions from being released.
According to CTA president Gary Shapiro, the NHTSA does not have any authority to be able to dictate how apps and mobile devices are designed, as the regulator's jurisdiction should only cover equipment for vehicles.
The Danger Of Distracted Driving
Distracted drivers are a real risk on the road, as they do not only endanger themselves and their passengers but also the occupants of the other vehicles traveling along with them.
A study from earlier in the year revealed that engaging in a phone call while driving is very dangerous, even if drivers would use hands-free technologies.
The hype surrounding augmented reality mobile game Pokémon GO from earlier in the year brought to light the issue of distracted driving, but an accessory has since been released that could help reduce the risk.
Researchers, however, have warned that texting while driving is the worst kind of distraction among drivers.