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CTA: Trump Admin Should Start Over With Distracted Driving Guidelines

The Consumer Technology Association has asked the Department of Transportation and Office of Management and Budget to rethink National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) guidelines for distracted driving and their impact on portable devices like smart phones, saying they could have a huge impact on mobile devices and apps.

That came in a letter to the new heads of both those agencies.

The guidelines were released Dec. 5, which falls within the post-election period during which Republicans warned against taking substantive auctions. They were phase two of NHTSA's distracted driver guidelines. The first deal with devices built into vehicles by the manufacturer.

"[F]ar too many are put at risk by drivers who are distracted by their cellphones," said then-U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "These commonsense guidelines, grounded in the best research available, will help designers of mobile devices build products that cut down on distraction on the road."

The guidelines "encourage[d] manufacturers to implement features such as pairing, where a portable device is linked to a vehicle’s infotainment system, as well as Driver Mode, which is a simplified user interface. Both pairing and Driver Mode will reduce the potential for unsafe driver distraction by limiting the time a driver’s eyes are off the road, while at the same time preserving the full functionality of these devices when they are used at other times."

CTA says it is concerned about distracted driving, too, but argues that NHTSA "does not have the authority to dictate the design of smartphone apps and other devices used in cars," saying its proposal to do so "is dangerously expansive, representing the worst of government overreach."

"While NHTSA maintains that the proposed guidelines would be voluntary and nonbinding, in practice they couldhave a sweeping effect on the multibillion dollar market for mobile devices and apps."

CTA wants the issue to get a "de novo" review (from scratch) by the new Trump Administration, which is more likely to share its view of the regs as overreach than the previous Administration.

The association said it was responding to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus' Jan. 20 memo about agencies and departments pausing and reviewing regs.

The letters went to new Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and acting OMB director Mark Sandy.