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Automakers try to balance technology and safety, reduce distractions for drivers

Posted on Monday, June 18th, 2012

We’ve written about it before, but with an increasing number of consumers being wooed by new vehicles featuring the latest in-dash technology, there’s a fine line between increasing convenience and adding even more potential distractions. Now, new guidelines from the Department of Transportation are attempting to crack down on in car distractions by disabling some functions while the vehicle is in motion, limiting the number of button presses required for any given task, and reducing the amount of time the driver needs to look away from the road to just 2 seconds. As Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood states, “If you’re going to put all this technology in cars, don’t allow people to use it while they’re supposed to be driving safely.”

A recent video segment from CBS News showcased the difficulty of utilizing these new technologies while continuing to remain focused on the road. The piece highlights retired UPS Driver Ron Sowder, who amassed over 4 million miles of driving without a single accident. He credits his success with always maintaining a safe following distance and paying attention. Unfortunately, as the report points out, the latest dashboard technology is becoming increasingly detrimental to the type of safe driving habits that helped Sowder maintain an impeccable driving record throughout his 50 year career.

You can watch the entire segment below:

As these new technologies face increasing amounts of scrutiny—and guidelines surrounding how they’re used become more commonplace—the discussion surrounding the dangers of distracted driving continues to get plenty of attention. However, whether that will translate into safer driving habits is a different matter entirely.

Drivers like Ron Sowder shouldn’t be the exception to the rule. Putting individual safety, and the safety of others, ahead of texting, checking email, making phone calls, or plugging an address into your GPS seems like a no brainer. Hopefully, by taking a closer look at how these new technologies impact distracted driving, the media can help continue to hammer the message home.


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