Navigating with a GPS during trips instead of an atlas has become more and more popular–but is it a risk for already-distracted drivers? As technology becomes more common, more and more people are concerned about distracted drivers becoming a danger to those around them. Phones are the usual culprit for such worries, but now the Department of Transportation has begun to point to GPS devices as well.
According to a New York Times article published earlier in June, last year the Department of Transportation introduced voluntary guidelines for automobile manufacturers in regards to their built-in GPS devices. Now, the Department of Transportation is seeking authority from Congress to regulate built-in navigation aids as well as smartphone apps. This change was included in the Obama administration’s proposed transportation bill and will give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the ability to regulate navigation aids and set restrictions or order changes if they are deemed dangerous. However, some people are concerned the measures aren’t going to work.
“If you put restrictions on the built-in systems designed to be used while driving, it’s going to encourage people to use hand-held devices that are not optimal for use by a driver,” said Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers to New York Times reporter Matthew Wald. “We believe that if you’re looking at a smaller screen, that’s less effective than looking at a larger screen on the dashboard.”
Currently, there are thirteen states plus Puerto Rico, Guam, The U.S. Virgin Islands and Washington DC that prohibit the use of cell phones while driving, and 44 states plus Puerto Rico, D.C., Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands have a strict ban on texting while driving. But, with the incredible proliferation of these apps–many of which come pre-loaded on smartphones–and the nomadic nature of phones, there is doubt as to how well regulations will work and argument that the Department of Transportation doesn’t have the means to implement such restrictions. Regardless, most people seem to agree that distracted driving is becoming quite a problem in the United States.