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NHTSA seeks to reduce distracted driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has requested that cellphone manufacturers like Apple, LG, Samsung and Motorola include features that would protect road users in South Carolina and around the country from distracted drivers. The request was included in the second phase of the agency's distracted driving guidelines, which will move into the review and implementation phase after members of the public have been given the opportunity to submit comments and suggestions. Comments can be submitted until Feb. 3.

NHTSA would like electronics companies to make cellphones that link with modern automobiles' in-vehicle systems. If the manufacturers agree, the screens of devices that have been paired would only be able to display emergency services notifications. NHTSA also wants phones to offer a driver mode for situations where devices cannot be paired. This mode would severely limit functionality while allowing map and navigation applications to work normally.

According to NHTSA data, about 10 percent of those killed in car or truck accidents every year in the United States were either distracted drivers or lost their lives in a crash involving a distracted driver. In 2013, the agency said that as many as 660,000 American drivers are looking at their cellphone screens instead of the road ahead at any given daylight moment.

Distracted driving accidents often result in death or serious injury, and they can be particularly serious when a tractor-trailer is involved. Personal injury attorneys may pursue civil remedies on behalf of distracted driving accident victims by filing lawsuits against the reckless truck drivers involved, but they could also initiate legal actions against their employers when they have failed to put policies in place to deter this kind of behavior or have failed to punish those who have violated such rules.

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