In non-binding guidelines released Thursday by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, automakers are also asked to block users from manual texting, Internet browsing, 10-digit phone dialing and entering addresses into GPS systems unless the car is in park. DOT is also working on new guidelines for handheld devices, LaHood said.
LaHood has made curbing so-called distracted driving a hallmark of his tenure. Nearly 10% of all highway fatalities in 2010 were attributed to distracted driving. But the push for more curbs on the devices comes at a time when carmakers are increasingly working with tech companies to integrate the products into automobile design.
A spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers told Bloomberg that DOT did not account for the costs that would be incurred by automakers and said the guidelines differ from the agency's own recommendations for on-board appliances, which have been updated twice since they were first adopted in 2002.
The number of cars and trucks sold in North America that have the built-in devices is expected to climb 29% to 5.8 million this year. By 2026, all vehicles sold in North America and Japan, according to automotive data firm QUBE.
"We recognize that vehicle manufacturers want to build vehicles that include the tools and conveniences expected by today's drivers," David Strickland, administrator of the department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said in a conference call, adding that regulators only want to limit when the devices can be used and not ban them outright.
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