Lawmakers in Florida -- one of the most deadly states when it comes to driving -- are squabbling over whether we need a specific law against texting from behind the wheel.
While the proposed statewide ban stagnates up in Tallahassee, the U.S. Department of Transportation has taken a new approach to increasing our focus behind the wheel: ask the auto industry to make cars less distracting.
The organization says car makers should not allow drivers to text message, surf the Web, access social networks, or even manually input an address destination into a GPS device, unless the vehicle is in park. External devices that are not built into the car are not covered under the proposed guidelines.
Within its recommendations, the DOT cites a study that found "text messaging was associated with the highest level of distraction potential. Ten-digit dialing was the second most distracting task; radio tuning had the lowest level."
Looking further ahead, the NHTSA is drafting "Phase II" proposed guidelines that could apply to anything you might bring into the car, such as a navi system, smartphone or tablet. A third phase of regulations could apply to voice-activated control of gadgets to further minimize distractions.
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