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Highway safety regulators seek smartphone Driver Mode to reduce in-car distractions

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has introduced a set of guidelines to address distractions caused by electronics devices.

Published onNovember 24, 2016

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has introduced a set of voluntary guidelines aimed at reducing driver distraction caused by electronics devices. The guidelines, made public yesterday, advise manufacturers implement in-car pairing features and a dedicated Driver Mode for smartphones.

The Driver Mode would feature a slimmer interface to reduce the amount of time driver’s eyes are off the road. The NHTSA recommends that features which aren’t important when driving – such as typing (for communication), video playback, photo viewing, and others – are disabled when the mode is active. The NHTSA acknowledged that the technology for distinguishing between passenger and driver in moving vehicles is still being refined and suggests that this feature be activated manually until the technology is more “mature”.

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The guidelines also encourage the use of in-car pairing so that drivers can use steering wheel or dash controls to operate the smartphone instead of interacting with it directly.

“Far too many are put at risk by drivers who are distracted by their cellphones,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.”These commonsense guidelines, grounded in the best research available, will help designers of mobile devices build products that cut down on distraction on the road.”

Pokemon Go developer Niantic recently disabled the game while in vehicles moving more than 10 mph following multiple reports of road traffic accidents associated with the app. Though the guidelines have no legal bearing, The New York Times notes that a number of teh NHTSA’s previous recommendations have been adopted by manufacturers.

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