Automakers Say Technology Can Address Distracted Driving

The Alliance supports banning text messaging or calling using a hand-held device while driving a motor vehicle. Automakers also support the “no phone zone” pledge to drive as responsibly as possible.

“We all need to begin every day with the intention to drive safely, remembering that autos give us great mobility, but along with that benefit comes great responsibility to be vigilant every second behind the wheel,” said Dave McCurdy, President & CEO, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (

To help promote responsible driving, the Alliance urged “no phone zones” to encourage a more rapid transition to hands-free phone use, saying the solution to wide-spread mobile phone use is technology.

“Digital technology has created a connected culture in America that has forever changed our society,” said McCurdy. “Managing technology is the solution, and that’s why automakers developed Driver Focus Design Guidelines to help drivers keep their eyes on the road. Drivers are going to have conversations, listen to music and read maps while driving, and automakers are helping them do this more safely with integrated connectivity technologies.”

Alliance members support applying their Driver Focus Guidelines* to help design connectivity technologies that are no more distracting than common manual radio controls (

“Today’s automobiles have GPS systems to help us find our way, and emergency crash notification to save lives. For future safety needs, we must preserve the wireless connection in cars to enable the next generation of vehicle safety technologies, including emerging intelligent transportation systems where cars will have the ability to “talk” to each other and the roadway. We need more integrated hands-free systems that help drivers focus on the road,” said McCurdy.

Mobile phones are ubiquitous today. Only China and India have more cell phones than the United States. About 90 percent of Americans own a cell phone, amounting to 280 million cell phones nationwide; by contrast, there are 250 million cars in the U.S.

Unlike nomadic devices brought into a vehicle, automaker-integrated features are designed for use in the driving environment. When a device is integrated into an automobile’s driver-vehicle interfaces (including visual displays and speakers) it is designed to be used in a way that helps the driver keep his eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

Integrated hands-free systems help drivers focus on the road in several ways. Hands-free technology allows a driver to operate the system using verbal commands. Hands-free systems may automatically adjust the radio volume when a user makes a call. Or they may allow a driver to know who is calling through an easy-to-read caller I.D. display, accept the call and turn down the radio volume all with one quick action, without taking hands off the steering wheel.

Integrating a nomadic or “carry-in” device into the vehicle system allows the vehicle to serve as a “safety filter.” For example, integrating (or connecting) a music player into the vehicle’s hard-wired system can allow a device’s information to be presented on the car’s integrated display. That means the driver doesn’t have to look away from the roadway to concentrate on a cell phone’s small display screen, which was never designed to be used while driving.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s (VTTI) 100-Car Naturalistic Study found that the odds of a crash or near-miss more than doubled when a driver’s eyes were off the road ahead for more than two seconds ( Alliance Driver Focus Guidelines specify that displays must be mounted high enough in the vehicle so drivers can continue seeing the roadway with their peripheral vision, even while glancing at the display. The guidelines also limit the amount of visual and manual demand that any particular task can impose on a driver. The demand must be equal to that of tuning an older-style radio – a common task that historically has not caused excessive driver distraction.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is a trade association of 11 car and light truck manufacturers including BMW Group, Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen.