Law & Order

NHTSA Proposes Driver Distraction Guidelines for Smart Phones and Other Portable Devices

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued proposed voluntary guidelines intended to help address driver distraction associated with mobile and other electronic devices in vehicles. The agency has already issued voluntary “Phase 1” guidelines covering devices installed in new vehicles, such as “information, navigation, communications and entertainment” products that require the driver to take their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel. These guidelines recommend that operating a device not require more than two seconds at one time (12 seconds total to perform) and one hand to achieve.

The voluntary “Phase 2” guidelines will focus on cell phones, smartphones and other mobile devices. Among other recommendations, the proposed guidelines encourage manufacturers to design products that incorporate pairing (linking to the vehicle’s infotainment system), “driver mode” or other features to help keep drivers’ eyes and hands engaged in operating the vehicle. Certain functions would be disabled once the phone is paired to the vehicle, such as video and texting. 

For more information, contact Stuart Gosswein at