On Dec. 5, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requested comments on its Visual-Manual NHTSA Driver Distraction Guidelines for Portable and Aftermarket Devices. The deadline to submit comments is Feb. 3.
The American Motorcyclist Association applauds NHTSA for its effort, because these guidelines are part of the NHTSA's ongoing effort to combat the problem of distracted and inattentive driving. Motorcyclists know how dangerous distracted drivers can be and these guidelines are an effort to address the danger resulting from the ever-increasing number of smart phones and other portable devices making their way into drivers' hands.
The U.S. Department of Transportation certainly is aware of the dangers posed by driver distraction, based on its own 2005 landmark research report released by the NHTSA and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. This report found that "nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event. Primary causes of driver inattention are distracting activities, such as cell phone use..." The AMA shares the NHTSA's position that these guidelines for portable and aftermarket devices are an important way to "mitigate the real-world risk posed by driver distraction from portable devices."
With the safety of motorcyclists the utmost priority to the AMA, we urge you to voice your opinion before Feb. 3.