Pointless New Federal Guideline Seeks to Prevent Reading in the Car

14194615014_fc355a4060_bSo the NTSB has released a draft set of voluntary guidelines for smartphone makers which bureaucrats believe will reduce distracted driving.

Me, I'm not so sure.

From Ars Technica:

"Distracted driving" has been getting more attention because the government calculates that it is prevalent and is causing more car crashes. Today, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration published guidelines calling on smartphone makers to create a "Driving Mode" that shuts down app-use while a car is in motion.

The 96-page voluntary guidelines (PDF), intended to reduce "driver distraction," also call for cars to be more easily "paired" with mobile devices so that drivers can access them through an in-vehicle interface.

"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 US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx."These commonsense guidelines, grounded in the best research available, will help designers of mobile devices build products that cut down on distraction on the road."

The "driver mode" envisioned by NHTSA would lock out things like typing out text messages, as well as displays of images or video not related to driving maps. It would also block most text content, like displays of most webpages, social media, books, and periodicals.

The problem (I spotted it right away, and so did the commenters at Ars) with these guidelines is that if you make them mandatory, when the "car mode" activates automatically passengers will be blocked from using their mobile devices.

And if you make the new mode optional then the worst of the drivers won't be bothered to use them. (The responsible drivers, on the other hand, already avoid using their smartphone while driving.)

Really, there's nothing to be gained here other than adding to the morass of government regulations - which one day might be passed as laws.

While these guidelines are voluntary, states have a tendency to start with federal guidelines when writing their traffic regulations, and with 50 states the odds are good that someone isn't going to think this through before signing this bad idea into law.

image by ETJ|Photography

About Nate Hoffelder (11579 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

1 Comment on Pointless New Federal Guideline Seeks to Prevent Reading in the Car

  1. Texting while driving is a serious safety issue, but these guidelines will create more problems than they solve, and I cannot imagine the average person seeing them as anything but annoying and something to be disabled or circumvented.

    Autonomous driving is the future, and until then we will have to tolerate some senseless carnage, just as we always have when it comes to driving. We have made some progress with smarter cars and improved road infrastructure and public awareness, but it can only go so far.

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