New federal agency standards to limit behind-the-wheel distractions

Connecticut recently passed one of the broadest cellphone bans in the country. But according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cellphones and other in-vehicle technology continue to cause driver distractions and Connecticut car accidents. The federal agency recently released new voluntary guidelines for automakers related to in-vehicle technology.

The new guidelines discourage automakers from putting devices in vehicles that allow drivers to type text for Web browsing or texting. In addition, the agency would like to see automakers refrain from installing devices that display Web pages and text messages. The industry will have three years before the guidelines take effect.

Initially, the NHTSA suggested a character limit for text entry and readable text, but the recommendation is now that no amount of text entry or text from books, Web pages, social media sites, books or texts is safe. Maps from an in-vehicle GPS and location information are allowed, but the agency discourages 3D images and photorealistic images (i.e. Google street view).

Interaction with Connecticut cellphone laws

Connecticut has one of the strictest cellphone laws in the nation. State law prohibits all hand-held cellphone use while driving. Violation of the law results in a distracted driving citation and a fine that increases based on the number of violations.

Even with the hand-held mobile phone ban in place, the NHTSA reports that the cellphone behavior is not changing. The number of car crashes nationwide that involved a cellphone increased from 47,000 in 2010 to 50,000 in 2011. Broader distracted driving, which can include operating a GPS, eating or watching a video, accounted for 10 percent of all reported traffic deaths.

Another federal agency, the National Transportation Safety Board currently wants to ban drivers from making hand-held and hands-free calls while driving. However, the NTSB proposal would still allow calls made through a vehicle, such as GM's OnStar technology, but would prohibit calls made through a "paired" hand-held cellphone and the vehicle.

Distractions leading to a crash

While you cannot influence how others drive, you can protect yourself by wearing a seat belt at all times and driving defensively. If you are in an accident caused by another driver, there is a possibility that in-vehicle distractions were the cause.

Following an auto accident contact an experienced personal defense attorney who can assist in uncovering what caused the accident. If another driver was negligent, then a lawyer can fight to ensure that you receive fair compensation for medical costs, lost wages and pain and suffering.