The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released proposed vehicle manufacturing guidelines that could affect drivers in North Carolina. While they are not binding, the guidelines propose in-vehicle systems that would pair with smartphones in order to prevent motorists from accessing distracting apps while driving.
The NHTSA has proposed alternative guidelines for cell phones that could not be paired with in-vehicle systems. These guidelines include a new “driver mode,” which would prevent a motorist from accessing many of a phone’s features while behind the wheel. According to the NHTSA, the driver mode would prevent drivers from accessing social media, watching videos or looking at photographs other than maps. It would also prevent text blocks from appearing or text from scrolling across the screen of the cell phone.
The proposed in-vehicle paired system would make the screen unreadable so that drivers wouldn’t be tempted to glance down at their phones and away from the road. Car manufacturers have not indicated whether or not such systems are in development. The NHTSA’s goal is to prevent injury and fatality accidents from happening because of drivers being distracted by their cell phones.
If the guidelines later become mandatory, they would affect drivers of both passenger vehicles and commercial trucks. People who are seriously injured by drivers distracted cell phones may have the legal grounds to file personal injury claims. If the distracted driver is a commercial truck driver, the injured victims might be able to sue both the driver and his or her trucking company. A personal injury lawyer may work to help a victim maximize the potential recovery.