Back in April, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released voluntary guidelines covering the use of in-car infotainment and communications in the hopes that automakers would reconfigure their systems to make them safer. But on Tuesday, NHTSA administrator David Strickland said at a congressional hearing that the administration has the authority to set vehicle smartphone guidelines and will release new voluntary guidelines next year, casting a wider net than the ones released in April, The Detroit News reports. This marks the first time NHTSA has said it has the authority to regulate portable devices, including smartphones, under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

Striking a balance between too little and too much regulation is crucial to facilitate technological innovation in vehicles, though automakers reportedly want some sort of official direction from NHTSA. "It is an evolving area of technology. We believe that guidelines gives us the ability to find the margin of safety and still keep innovation," Strickland said in an interview with The Detroit News.

NHTSA will work with device manufacturers, application developers and the telecommunications industry on the implementation of the portable device guideline, "to make sure all of these things are working in the proper zone of safety," according to The Detroit News.


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  • 71 Comments
      Kumar
      • 1 Year Ago
      You could also look at this as a failure on the front end of obtaining a drivers license that has states and the feds looking to regulate it later on. How many others out there live in states with little to no driver education requirements and ridiculously easy driver tests? If it were harder, required much more studying, and more expensive to get a license and easier to lose it, at least for a short period of time for offenses, then drivers would probably obey more traffic laws. Unfortunately, in Indiana, driver education is a lower priority, and there are so few cops in Indianapolis right now you can pretty much drive however you want as long as you don't hit anyone. So a bunch of new laws will do no good if there is nobody available to enforce them.
      R3TRO
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think I'd be more distracted by that hipster beard than my phone.
      Alex Ellsworth
      • 1 Year Ago
      Distracted driving laws already ban talking and texting while driving, so I don't know what's left to regulate. Meanwhile, infotainment systems like Chevrolet's MyLink and Kia's UVO are increasingly smartphone-based for navigation, music, etc. I know I use my smartphone as a navigation system - why would I spend money on a giant, clunky aftermarket one.
      Randy
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm sad that people can't just be responsible while driving and that we empower our Government to control our lives with our own stupidity and irresponsibility. Next time u see a texting driver, thank them for being the reason why another bit of freedom is being chipped away!
        rbnhd1144
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Randy
        Thats Right! we have more laws because people are too stupid for their own good.
      ufgrat
      • 1 Year Ago
      The NHTSA is focusing on making everything in the car safer.... except the drivers. Distracted driving is a symptom of people not paying enough attention to their driving. We need better training / testing programs, and we need to ditch the idea that driving is a "right". It's a privilege that needs to be earned.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        Sir Duke
        • 1 Year Ago
        Carguy: It is because people are generally ________ (fill in the blank) that sometimes lead to governments taking a heavy-handed/big brother approach to laws in the name of public safety. There are too many idiots out there who think that they are better at this than the last couple hundred jacka$$e$ who either died or killed someone, by fiddling with crap that has nothing to do with driving the car.
      rbnhd1144
      • 1 Year Ago
      The problem isnt the type of phone, Its the distraction, smartphone, hands off, bluetooth who cares, its the BRAIN OF THE MORON that is controling that vehicle, thats the problem, why cant people just drive or phone, again it comes down to common sense and the idiot driver thinking they are So Smart. I can multi task too, its just that I chose not to, I have respect for myself , the people with me and the drivers and pedestrians around me. Everyone that injures or kills someone while driving and using a cell phone is always sorry but thats no dam good, they should lose sleep everynight. They have made a choice to talk. I've been hit by a car while the driver was on his cell, I was stood and he ran into me, I know how it feels.
        VL00
        • 1 Year Ago
        @rbnhd1144
        "I can multi task too" - No, you can't. That's a term that ONLY applies to computers. You can task switch
        Kevin Gregerson
        • 1 Year Ago
        @rbnhd1144
        Seriously, I think if people saw the difference between me being my phone while driving via text, talk etc. and me putting my 100 percent attention on the road they would choose the first. When I have a phone or something to distract myself I don't get bored and start speeding just to keep myself awake. If there is traffic around, I can watch what all the people in the cars are doing. But with basically no traffic, my car is in the triple digits going across the country if I don't have a cell, book on tape, etc to keep my mind off the boring road. On the plus side my over-observance and speeding tend to happen upon drunk drivers pretty regularly especially at night which has gotten a number of them off the roads. Though, I will say that with age, I am slowing down a little. But I think that has more to do with me buying cars with instant fuel economy meters to keep me distracted with the objective of balancing max fuel economy with speed to destination.
          flychinook
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Kevin Gregerson
          Well, I hope that if (when) you finally crash due to your selfishness, you manage not to take anybody else out with you. The roads are not there for your personal amusement. I'm glad to hear that you're slowing down a little, but risking the lives of others is no way to alleviate boredom. In fact, it borders on psychopathic.
      rmkensington
      • 1 Year Ago
      So are they going to lock out passengers too from using their phones?
      montegod7ss
      • 1 Year Ago
      There is no balance with government oversight. It's always more more more. Never less.
        Karl_T
        • 1 Year Ago
        @montegod7ss
        Then tell dumbaxxes to quit texting, browsing, selecting playlists, etc. while driving.
      Jobu
      • 1 Year Ago
      No, no, NO! We have an abundance of distracted driver laws in place in every single state and municipality. When are the willing sheep in this country going to figure out that one size fits all federal regulation is NOT the answer. While I know the article is referencing guidelines, this is always the first step. Now look at the price of electricity as a result of what was once a guideline against coal electricity plants. Special interests get rich, we get screwed, and NOBODY is any safer. No, no, NO!
        rubley00
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jobu
        "When are the willing sheep in this country going to figure out that one size fits all federal regulation is NOT the answer." - because drivers in Maine are different than drivers in Oregon? No reason to leave something like this to states.
      cantdrive55
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hooray! More Government!
        rubley00
        • 1 Year Ago
        @cantdrive55
        Yes, I'm very happy, morons need to be punished. If you're against it, than you must be against drunk driving laws too.
          edward.stallings
          • 1 Year Ago
          @rubley00
          "If you're against it, than you must be against drunk driving laws too." That is faulty logic. You are obviously having trouble with logic in general. Not too good with math are you?
          VL00
          • 1 Year Ago
          @rubley00
          Actually I have a degree in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Mathetmatics. How about you?
      E85 450HP Forester
      • 1 Year Ago
      Thank you God! This is out of control I consider driving and smartphones as dangerous as dricing while intoxicated, THIS HAS TO STOP!!!!!!!!
        windexsunday
        • 1 Year Ago
        @E85 450HP Forester
        Yet the NTSB has no power to regulate the laws regarding alcohol. Frankly, it is complete BS that they think they have any power to regular cell phones or software on the phones. Unfortunately, like all federal agencies these days, they just seem to do what they want and everyone just stands around twiddling their thumbs.
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