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 |  Mar 26 2012, 8:32 PM

Last week, details of NHTSA’s distracted driving guidelines were released with some of it focusing on in-car navigation technology.

NHTSA proposed that static images on navigation displays would help make drivers less distracted, but we agree that such a restriction almost defeats the purpose of real-time navigation entirely.

Thankfully, AT&T Labs is thinking outside the box and perhaps providing a solution to lessen distracted driving. The idea is to incorporate haptic feedback into our steering wheels – much like what video gamers get with their simulators – in order to notify us when to turn instead of having to look at on-screen instructions.

Haptic feedback is pretty common in today’s world. We have it on our phones and tablets, each time we push a key, a slight vibration lets us know something happened. Those same vibrations could be sent to the steering wheel in a clockwise or counter-clockwise pattern in order to let you know when to turn right or left.

The study is currently being conducted by AT&T Labs and researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the initial reports are promising. Through the use of driving simulators and incorporating haptic feedback in the steering wheel, drivers are able to keep their eyes on the road longer for more attentive driving.

The haptic feedback study also showed that drivers made fewer errors while turning because they didn’t have to listen to a voice to know where and when to turn.

Instead of removing functionality from something as important as navigation (by incorporating static images), it seems there may be ways to make it even better and less distracting.

[Source: Technology Review]