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Two-seconds: at highway speeds that can be a long time

Driving through the beautiful Georgia countryside can be distracting. The U.S. Department of Transportation cannot control what you are staring at outside your windows. But they do have some influence over what goes into your vehicle. This week they have announced that they want auto manufacturers to consider the time it takes to use devices within the car, and limit that time to no more than two-seconds at a glance. The new guidelines would help keep drivers eyes on the road and not fiddling with buttons and looking at screens.

The recommendation comes as distracted driving is being seen as an every greater problem. Cars are coming equipped with more electronic devices, from GPSs and cameras to assist lane changes and backing up, to DVD players and internet enabled devices that even allow web browsing. With more than 3,000 people dying in car accidents in 2011 related to distracted driving, and fears that those numbers will increase as the economy recovers and more distracting electronic devices are placed in cars.

In addition to the deaths, there were almost 400,000 people injured in these distracted driving accidents. These injuries can range from minor scrapes or broken bones, to severe, such as spinal and traumatic brain injuries that require a lifetime of care.

Car manufacturers all want to offer the latest and greatest gadgets in their vehicles. DOT is attempting to allow manufacturers develop solutions in a dynamic fashion, as they realize that the changes in technology may move faster than they can issue regulations.

These guidelines recommend that tasks can be completed in two-second intervals, or cumulative 1.5-second intervals, totaling no more than 12 seconds. Keeping a driver's eyes on the road and other drivers is essential to preventing distracted driving accidents.

Source: CNN, "'Two second' safety guideline for cars of the future," Mike M. Ahlers, April 24, 2013

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