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Automakers Develop Voluntary Telematics Safety Standards

April 30, 2002

When motorists get behind the wheel of ahigh-tech car, sometimes it seems the last thing they have time to think about is the road, according to an Associated Press story by Nedra Pickler. There's the global mapping system to program, traffic updates to read from an onboard display, and even stock prices to check through a dashboard computer.Now automakers have developed voluntarystandards to try to limit how much the gadgets interfere with driving, according to AP.Safety advocates say the guidelines do not go far enough and they want the federal government to come up with rules.The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers developed 23 principles for the installation and design of telematics -- electronics and communications that provide guidance andinformation to drivers. The guidelines, which the alliance sent this week to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), call for systems that present information without interfering with safe driving.For example, new technologies should not block the driver's view or get in the way of othervehicle controls. The driver should be able to complete tasks with brief glances. Sounds should not be so loud they mask warnings inside or outside the vehicle.Vann Wilber, the alliance's director of vehicle safety, said gadgets that comply with the standards should be in vehicles within three tofive years. Safety advocates say the government should develop regulations with the force of law.Federal auto safety regulators estimate that driver distraction -- from eating to talking on a cell phone or to passengers -- is involved in 20 to 30 percent of all crashes.
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