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Pennsylvania roads may grow safer without cellphones

In December 2016, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration sought public feedback and commentary on rules that it proposed as part of its Driver Distraction Guidelines. In the proposal, the agency sought to combat the fact that despite its prior efforts at education, many people continue creating hazardous road conditions by using their cellphones and other devices while driving. By asking cellphone manufacturers to help combat the problem, the NHTSA hopes to decrease the likelihood that motorists will get distracted this way.

The new proposal works by asking manufacturers to include a driver mode in their phones. This would prevent users from engaging in activities like texting, browsing the web and using certain app functionality when behind the wheel of a car or truck. As a stronger alternative, the agency also recommended the institution of device pairing functions that would disable the screens of any phones that were paired with vehicles.

NHTSA sources admitted that although current technology limits how well such functions might work without drivers enabling them manually, it wants to speed the development of phones that can switch to driver mode automatically. One agency administrator said that rising fatality rates made driver distraction a high priority and declared that regulators would continue working with device companies to implement a solution.

Devices like cellphones may be implicated in accidents that involve inattentive truck drivers. These large vehicles have more difficulty stopping in order to avoid wrecks, so a driver's lack of focus on the road could take a higher toll on vehicle occupants in the vicinity. Accident victims may want to have legal advice on how best to seek compensation for the losses that they have sustained.

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