Last month, scientists recommended that cars electronically disable cellphone functions while the vehicles are in motion, and now the Department of Transportation is co-signing the idea. In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) guidelines released on Tuesday, the agency recommends blocking several common functions unless the car is stopped and in park, including manual text entry for text messaging and internet browsing, video-based entertainment and communications, and the display of certain kinds of text, such as text messages, web pages, and social media content. The recommendations stopped short of coming out against hands-free voice and texting apps, which a recent study has found can still significantly impact driving performance.
The guidelines are non-binding
The guidelines are non-binding, and since car infotainment systems are often designed years in advance, it will be some time before we see automakers voluntarily adding the functionality, if ever. Elsewhere, opposition to in-car distractions don’t seem to be quite such a high priority. The Wall Street Journal reports on the popularity of front-seat navigation systems equipped with TV tuners in Japan, whose otherwise strict driving laws only prevent "staring" at a screen while driving.