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NHTSA suggests driver mode for cellphones

One way that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hopes to reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted drivers is to limit how people can use their cellphones while they are behind the wheel. Cellphone use is a common cause of Texas car and truck accidents, and the NHTSA has recommended that mobile device manufacturers create a driver mode.

The guidelines published in the second phase of the NHTSA's Driver Distraction Guidelines are currently voluntary. This is likely due, at least in part, to the fact that current technology isn't able to determine if someone using a cellphone in a car is a driver or a passenger.

Recommendations are that cellphones should be limited to emergency services and the ability to obtain driving directions. Using a driver mode setting or connecting to an in-vehicle system would prevent drivers from being able to go online, view social media sites or read text or view images that were not related to maps and directions. Manual text entry would also be disabled.

Distracted driving is a major cause of truck accidents. Commercial trucks can do a lot more damage than a passenger car since loaded trucks may weigh up to 80,000 pounds. It may be a good idea for commercial trucking companies to impose cellphone limitations on drivers even though the NHTSA guidelines are voluntary, as in many cases the company will be held financially responsible for an injured victim's losses if a driver who is on the clock is negligent and causes a collision with another vehicle.

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