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DC Insider: April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

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On April 23, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood released distraction guidelines that encourage automobile manufacturers to limit the distraction risk associated with electronic devices built into their vehicles. High-tech devices designed for communications, entertainment and navigation, known as “infotainment systems,” will, inevitably, increase distracted driving and add to the ever-increasing number of crashes and fatalities attributable to distracted and inattentive vehicle operation.

The American Motorcyclist Association sent a letter on April 24 thanking LaHood for his actions regarding his ongoing efforts to combat distracted driving and shares his view that “Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic that has devastating consequences on our nation’s roadways.”

Issued by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the voluntary guidelines establish specific recommended criteria for electronic devices installed in vehicles at the time they are manufactured that require drivers to take their hands off the wheel or eyes off the road to use them.

The guidelines recommend disabling several operations unless the vehicle is stopped and in “park,” such as:

•    Manual text entry for the purposes of text messaging and internet browsing;
•    Video-based entertainment and communications like video phoning or video conferencing;
•    Display of certain types of text, including text messages, web pages, social media content.

The AMA supports NHTSA efforts to curtail distracted driving, and agrees with LaHood that infotainment systems are a step in the wrong direction toward achieving safer highways for all users, especially motorcyclists.

Driver, rider and pedestrian safety should never be compromised in the effort to introduce yet another technology distraction to an already overly distracting automobile cockpit.

You can count on the AMA to keep fighting for you—the motorcyclist—on this important issue of safer highways for all users. 

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