DOT Wants 'Driver Mode' on Hand-held Devices

November 23, 2016

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released proposed guidelines today to help address driver distraction caused by mobile and other electronic devices in vehicles. Today’s announcement covers the Phase Two voluntary guidelines to address driver distraction on U.S. roads. The Phase One guidelines focused on devices or systems built into the vehicle at the time of manufacture.

The proposed, voluntary guidelines are designed to encourage portable and aftermarket electronic device developers to design products that, when used while driving, reduce the potential for driver distraction. The guidelines encourage manufacturers to implement features such as pairing, where a portable device is linked to a vehicle’s infotainment system, as well as Driver Mode, which is a simplified user interface. Both pairing and Driver Mode will reduce the potential for unsafe driver distraction by limiting the time a driver’s eyes are off the road, while at the same time preserving the full functionality of these devices when they are used at other times.

Non-driving tasks as defined by the agency include:

  • Caller Identification
  • Incoming Call Management
  • Initiating and Terminating Phone Calls
  • Conference Phoning
  • Two-Way Radio Communications
  • Paging
  • Address Book
  • Reminders
  • Text-Based Communications
  • Social Media Messaging or Posting
  • Radio (including but not limited to AM, FM, and Satellite)
  • Pre-recorded Music Players, All Formats
  • Television
  • Video Displays
  • Advertising
  • Internet Browsing
  • News
  • Directory Services

"NHTSA has long encouraged drivers to put down their phones and other devices, and just drive," said NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind. "With driver distraction one of the factors behind the rise of traffic fatalities, we are committed to working with the industry to ensure that mobile devices are designed to keep drivers’ eyes where they belong — on the road." To read the full safety guideline proposal, click here: