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NHTSA proposes cellphone guidelines to curb distracted driving

The number of distracted driving accidents is on the rise in New York and around the country, and this has many road safety advocates extremely worried. These collisions tend to occur at high speeds and with little or no evasive action being taken, and the likelihood of catastrophic injury or death increases greatly when a semi-tractor trailer is involved. Distracted driving accidents are often caused by people using cellphones while behind the wheel, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has asked companies like Apple and Samsung to develop systems that would prevent drivers from using their devices.

The request is part of a set of distracted driving guidelines proposed by the NHTSA. Figures from the federal safety agency reveal that about 10 percent of those killed on the nation's roads each year lose their lives in a distracted driving crash. The public has until Feb. 3 to submit comments about the voluntary measures. The NHTSA wants cellphone manufacturers to include a feature that would allow their devices to be paired to suitably equipped vehicles. The screens of paired devices would then only display emergency notifications.

The agency has also asked manufacturers to develop a driver mode for situations where pairing is not possible. When this mode is activated, drivers would not be able to read or type text, see photographs or watch videos. Maps and GPS functions would be unaffected. Technology could be developed in the coming years that would allow cellphones to determine whether or not their owners are operating a vehicle. Driver mode or pairing would then applied automatically.

Distracted drivers often blame their accidents on drowsiness or mechanical failure, but using a cellphone or other mobile device while behind the wheel may leave an electronic footprint. Experienced personal injury attorneys could study the cellphone records or social media accounts of a suspected distracted driver for signs of activity during the moments prior to a collision, and they could also have their damaged vehicle inspected to rule out steering or braking system failure.

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