The U.S. Department of Transportation is keeping a close eye on driver privacy as more automakers begin developing wireless connectivity in vehicles.
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The United States Department of Transportation just released data suggesting an overwhelming majority of drivers who experience connected vehicle technology respond to it favorably and perceive it as an important safety measure.
US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the first-ever federally proposed guidelines for in-vehicle electronic devices to automakers, hoping to limit how distracted drivers can get by these new devices.
The proposed voluntary guidelines affects communications, entertainment, information gathering, and navigation devices or functions that are not required to safety operate a vehicle. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued out the guidelines hoping to establish a criteria for electronic devices installed by the manufacturer that require visual or manual operation by drivers.
“Distracted driving is a dangerous and deadly habit on America’s roadways – that’s why I’ve made it a priority to encourage people to stay focused behind the wheel,” said Secretary LaHood. “These guidelines are a major step forward in identifying real solutions to tackle the issue of distracted driving for drivers of all ages.”
These new guidelines are the first in a series of guidance documents NHTSA is planning to issue, hoping to limit the use of distracting technology that requires the use of hands and/or diverting the eyes from the road. Some of the recommendations released in the first set of guidelines including limiting the device operation to one hand only. limiting unnecessary visual information in the driver’s field of view, and limiting individual off-road glances to no more than two seconds in duration.
In addition, it also recommends the disabling of operations such as visual-manual text messaging, internet browsing, social media browsing, 10-digit phone dialing, and displaying more than 30 characters of unrelated driving text.
NHTSA hopes to release a future phase that will have guidelines for aftermarket components such as portable electronic devices or navigation units, while a third phase will address voice-activated controls.
This distracted driving PSA isn’t meant to make you LOL, but it will have you saying OMG.
The Department of Transportation will be releasing its new public service announcement, titled OMG, in theaters and at gas stations nationwide, in the next month. This PSA is targeted to teens to remind them to put down the cell phone and stop texting while driving. Employing popular texting phrases like LOL and L8R, the ad shows the dangers that three little characters can potentially cause. And with the holiday season almost upon us – with all the vacation days, parties and high-tech gifts – this PSA is a sobering reminder of how little it takes to get into a car accident while texting and driving.
The PSA will be shown at Regal Cinema movie screens and PumpTop TV at gas stations. Or you can watch it after the jump.
[Source: Consumer Reports]
The United States Department of Transportation reported that 2010 was a record low for traffic fatalities, besting the previous record of 2009. While that year saw 33,808 deaths, 2010 saw a drop to 32,708.
Both the DOT and NHTSA credit public awareness campaigns and stricter law enforcement, with programs against impaired driving, distracted driving and even pro-seatbelt campaigns being lauded. Undoubtedly, safer vehicles and improved safety systems can also share some of the glory, but either way, we are pleased to see the statistic falling and hope that its a continuing trend in the future.
You’d think that with all of the public service announcements, all of the shocking statistics and all of the cringe-worthy footage you can find on YouTube, drivers would think twice about getting behind the wheel drunk. Does it surprise you that almost 12,000 people are still killed annually from alcohol-related accidents? Just as surprising is a new study out by the Department of Transportation that shows that one in five drivers admit to driving within two hours of drinking.
The study comes up with some pretty revealing facts. This includes that the total number of drinking/driving trips in the past month is estimated to be at 85.5 million (this is up from 73.7 million in 2004) and it reverses a trend that has been on a decline since 1995. It also found that four out of five people see drunk driving as a major threat to the safety of themselves and their family.
Other stats pulled from the study were that eight percent of people accepted a ride with someone who they thought was too drunk to drive, and of those, 24 percent of males aged 21-24 were more at risk of riding with a drunk driver. Other facts to note were that drivers who drink were three times as likely as drivers who don’t to ride with someone they thought had consumed too much alcohol. For non-drivers who drink, they were eight times as likely to do so.
Sadly, this survey found that eight percent of all drivers (approximately 17 million people) have driven drunk at least once in the past year. For those caught driving under the influence in the past two years, about 1 percent of those were aged 16 or older, with five percent of men 21-24 years of age arrested. When questioned about curbing drinking and driving, 63 percent say that alcohol interlocks in vehicles would be very effective at helping to stop this behavior.
[Source: Consumer Reports]
Last week the Department of Transportation announced a $16.4 million fine for Toyota after it declared the automaker acted too slowly in informing the government about a problem with sticking accelerator pedals which later led to a recall. That might not be the end of it, however, as according to a report by Automotive News the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) could levy yet another similar fine.
Of note is the fact that current legislation has saved Toyota from a far more costly payout. The DOT could have fined Toyota for each infraction on the 2.3 million cars, but the current law limits the amount to just one. Were it not for the current legislation, the total could have been as high as $13.8 billion.
The DOT is continuing to investigate Toyota and as it combs though mounts of subpoenaed documents new items of note continue to surface, allowing the DOT to put together a timeline of events. Most recently, investigators uncovered a document that Toyota has asked for accelerator pedal changes to be made in Europe last October, but not in the U.S. In addition, an email uncovered recently by former Toyota VP of environmental and public affairs Irv Miller, urged company execs to “come clean” on the accelerator pedal issue, stating that, “the time to hid on this one is over.”
No official word of the fine has been made by the NHTSA and Toyota has yet to announce if it will appeal the initial fine.
[Source: Automotive News va Autoblog]
As though Toyota needed any more to deal with right now, the automaker could face a fine from the Federal Government for not acting quickly enough in issuing recalls. Legally, automakers that don’t issue recalls in a timely manner can be stuck with a fine for as much as $16.4 million. That amount, however, pales in comparison to the almost $2 billion that Toyota says the recent recalls will cost the company.
On Wednesday Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that until then Toyota had been uncooperative in working with the government and that it had taken a considerable effort to get the automaker to issue recalls.
To date, the largest fine the DOT has dolled out was to General Motors, for $1 million.
Toyota has said it has received no word tat a fine is pending.
[Source: Automotive News via eGMcartech]
Toyota‘s popular Prius model is now officially under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for potentially faulty brakes. In a statement released by the NHTSA, it said it will launch a formal investigation into whether the popular hybrid has a brief loss of braking capability when traveling over bumpy or icy roads.
This announcement may, however, be a moot point as Toyota has already admitted to knowing there was a problem with the brakes on the 2010 Prius (a model previously unaffected by any of Toyota’s other recalls). Toyota has said it knew of a problem that caused a brief loss of braking during the transition from the car’s regenerative braking (which serves to power-up the car’s hybrid battery) to its traditional friction braking. Toyota refers to this as “slight unresponsiveness” and says it usually lasts less than a second.
The NHTSA has received over 100 complaints about the Prius’s brakes, including four where crashes resulted.
Toyota has said the issue has been solved on all models produced since late January but has yet to issue a recall for all 2010 models built and sold before that point. The NHTSA’s investigation is likely to ensure a recall.
See more Toyota recall news at the AutoGuide.com Toyota Recall News Hub.
Ads to appear on the first day of the Department of Transportation's Distracted Driving Summit
Tomorrow, if you pick up a copy of USA Today or The Washington Post, you’re likely to see Volvo’s full page ad, calling for legislation on “distracted driving.” The ads come on the very day that the U.S. Department of Transportation begins its two day Distracted Driving Summit to discuss the issue. Along with senior DOT staff, the summit will also host elected officials, safety advocates, academics and law enforcement representatives. Volvo, however, is not a participant, although the company that has built a reputation for vehicles that are, above all else, safe, obviously has something to say on the matter.
“With the proliferation of cell phone use and text messaging while behind the wheel, distracted driving is on the rise and is a leading cause of traffic accidents,” said Doug Speck, Volvo Cars North America president and CEO. “Reasonable laws that help focus a driver’s attention on the road will help reduce collisions, just as laws to enforce seat belt use have helped save lives. By holding this summit, the DOT is demonstrating its commitment to resolve an ever-growing safety issue.”
Along with numerous safety innovations throughout the decades, more recently Volvo prides itself on electronic systems such as lane departure warning or even the new “City Safety” system which debuted on the XC60 (above), that can actually stop the vehicle when a collision is detected.
Currently only seven states have banned cell phone use (without a hands-free device) while driving, while 18 states have laws against texting while driving.
Official release after the jump: