Today, federal Transportation Secretary Ray La Hood proposed voluntary steps to establish new safety criteria for hands-free calling, navigation and entertainment systems in cars.
“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,” LaHood said.
Distracted driving deaths totaled 3,092 in 2010, the latest available figures show. But LaHood’s agency believes the total could be higher due to the unwillingness of drivers to always admit behavior, lack of witnesses to a crash in some cases, or the death of the driver.
Most U.S. motorists surveyed last year acknowledged few situations in which they would not use a cellphone or text while behind the wheel. However, they supported measures to curb both practices, the Transportation Department said.
La Hood’s proposal recommends disabling in-vehicle electronic devices that the driver could use when a car is moving. This would cover text messaging, Internet browsing, and access to social media. The National Transportation Safety Board also recommended in December that certain hands-free and communication devices be banned in cars.