Feds to Automakers: Stop In-Car Texting, Distractions

Tuesday, 23 Apr 2013 | 2:19 PM ET
DOT's LaHood: Safety Will Always Be Priority
Tuesday, 23 Apr 2013 | 1:55 PM ET
CNBC's Phil LeBeau speaks to Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood about the sequester, and its impact on flights.

The Department of Transportation wants automakers to limit their in-car communication systems in an effort to curb distracted driving accidents.

On Tuesday, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration announced new guidelines it wants auto companies to follow as they develop in-car communication systems. NHTSA recommendations are designed to limit how long a driver takes their eyes off the road to no more than two seconds at a time.

"I think people using cell phones while driving is dangerous," said Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transportation. "These guidelines are based on the best data and best information we have."

Tony Avelar | The Christian Science Monitor | Getty Images

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The guidelines are voluntary for the automakers and do not require changes to infotainment and communication systems immediately. However, the Federal government is asking automakers to phase in the guidelines within three years.

Banning Texting & Video

The NHTSA proposal calls for automakers to ban three pieces of technology that could distract the driver for greater than two seconds.

•Manual text entry for the purposes of text messaging and Internet browsing;

•Video-based entertainment and communications like video phoning or video conferencing;

•Display of certain types of text, including text messages, web pages, social media content.

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Greater Than 2 Second Delay

The NHTSA recommendations are based on a study the federal government conducted looking into distracted driving. The study found drivers who have their eyes diverted from the road for greater than two seconds run a three times greater risk of getting into an accident.

—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau; Follow him on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.