Automakers Urged to Limit Dashboard Distractions image

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration impelled automakers to stop equipping vehicles with entertainment and navigation systems that can distract drivers, adding that the guideline doesn’t aim at reducing the sale of these gadgets but rather encourage companies to design them to be safer.

Recent studies have shown that companies are creating increasingly complicated devices, called infotainment systems, which control music, phone systems, navigation, Internet searches and social media. Even if the majority of these devices are voice-activated, there are still functions that require hands-on use. These gadgets have increased the risk of accidents, especially at higher speeds when even 2 seconds of oblivion can cause deaths.

“The choice between ensuring drivers are safe and including cutting-edge features in cars is false,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who announced the guidelines. “We can and we must do both.”

The company’s statement that the proposals would not levy any penalties against carmakers that fail to comply, received some reactions from some safety advocates, who said that the measures should be tougher and should be aimed especially towards talking on the phone while driving.

“Automakers are throwing as much stuff up there to look cool or sell vehicles, and that may not be what the customer wants or should be able to have or do,” said David Champion Sr., director of Consumer Reports Automotive Test Center.