from Toyota discussed a potential 30-character limit based on Japan
Automobile Manufacturers Association guidelines. NHTSA ultimately
replaced a proposed character limit for displayed text with a
recommendation against displaying any text from
books, periodical publications, Web page content, social media
content, text-based advertising and marketing or text-based messages.
— The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released
visual-manual driver distraction guidelines for electronic devices in
vehicles. The NHTSA, part of the Department of Transportation, issued
these nonbinding, voluntary guidelines to promote safety by
discouraging the introduction of “excessively distracting devices
apply to original, in-vehicle electronic devices used by the driver
to perform secondary tasks — the driver looks at a device,
manipulates a device-related control with his or her hand and/or
watches for visual feedback. Communications, entertainment,
information gathering and navigation fall under this umbrella.
the guidelines apply to new technology, they also are applicable to
common electronic devices referred to as “conventional information
or communications systems,” such as AM/FM radios, satellite radios,
CD players, cassette players and MP3 players.
NHTSA believes some secondary tasks interfere with a driver’s
ability to control the car safely. Two examples would be displaying
video or scrolling text. The guidelines recommend these devices be
designed to “lock out” the driver at a certain point if the
vehicle is moving.
guidelines include a test for manufacturers to measure eye glance
behavior during those tasks, and determine whether it’s safe to
perform such actions while driving and whether equipment necessary to
complete the tasks should be modified. You can find the 281-page
guidelines on the NHTSA website www.nhtsa.gov
and on DOT’s distracted driving website distraction.gov.
guidelines are based on certain fundamental principles. NHTSA
believes the driver’s eyes should be looking ahead at the road and
be able to keep “at least” one hand on the steering wheel while
performing a secondary task. The distraction induced by any secondary
task performed while driving should not exceed that associated with a
baseline reference task, like manual radio tuning.
performed by a driver should be interruptible at any time, and the
driver, not the system/device, should control the pace of task
interactions, according to NHTSA.
the NHTSA considers distracting include displaying video not related
to driving, automatically scrolling text, large amounts of static
text for reading and manual text entry. It does not mean to block
simple map displays and related text, so long as the material is
“displayed in a safe manner.”
is looking at the future of the car in general, and at the dashboard
first thing someone in a car should do is drive,” said David
Strickland, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration, during a recent Senate Commerce Committee hearing on
future car technologies.
NHTSA wants drivers to be able to accomplish tasks quickly, to avoid
distraction — “the equivalent of handling a radio in a car,”
even these conventional systems can potentially distract drivers and
present a safety risk, and, as in-vehicle systems continue to offer
more functionality, the interfaces for these conventional systems
could become more complex and potentially more distracting in the
future, according to NHTSA.
guidelines are needed to incorporate the latest driver distraction
research since the recommendations were last updated seven years ago,
says NHTSA. Some of the recent research suggests improvements can be
made. For example, the eye glance test protocol uses radio tuning as
a reference task to establish the maximum recommended threshold for
what it calls “Total Eyes-Off-Road Time” or TEORT, to complete an
action. New research results suggest that the best TEORT associated
with radio tuning should be 12 seconds; that’s more stringent from
the previously accepted 20 seconds.
NHTSA research found “substantial” differences in Total
Eyes-Off-Road times for drivers tuning a radio depending on what
vehicle model was used. During tuning testing using five vehicles,
some with knob and others button tuning, Total Eyes-Off-Road times
ranged from 8 to 15.8 seconds.
is concerned that the driver interfaces of conventional electronic
devices can, with modern electronics, be made far more distracting
than they have been in the past. NHTSA does not believe that, for
example, a future in-vehicle radio that shows video clips as it plays
music should still be considered in conformance with the NHTSA
Guidelines simply because a radio is a conventional electronic
the hearing, Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., expressed
concern about the distractions inherent in turning cars into virtual
“rolling offices.” Strickland said NHTSA does not accept that
concept; rather, NHTSA wants to lock out such activities as having
the driver read large amounts of text on a screen. It’s okay to
have that text transcribed and read to you, Strickland explained,
because that’s “like a radio.”
for comment, Valerie Shuman, vice president of industry programs for
the Connected Vehicle Trade Association, said in NHTSA’s ideal
world, people would just drive. However, realizing there are
distractions, NHTSA tries to measure what looks to be the best
possible set of metrics.
think radio gets used as an example because the interface is
something people are extremely used to … It doesn’t take much
time to hit the knob on a radio,” said Shuman. “You aren’t
looking at this big, fancy screen” or “clicking through 17 layers