The new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines for fighting distracted driving would essentially make in-car GPS systems unusable because they would be considered a driving distraction.
The NHTSA has been working in conjunction with automobile manufacturers to limit the ability of drivers to access in-car electronics such as navigation systems, access to the Internet and even text and cell phone calls. This move is being hailed by proponents of safe driving who point to a recent NHTSA study showing distracted driving fatalities now exceed deaths caused by drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They say that any changes made to prevent people from accessing electronics while they are driving their car should be made immediately; there is no time like the present to address this increasing threat on American roadways.
In the meantime the NHTSA is struggling to convince state law makers to enact bans on the use of any handheld devices by drivers, whether for texting or talking or something else. Many state legislators have said statewide bans go too far and these decisions are better left up to municipal lawmakers on a city by city, or community by community basis. This does not sit well with safe driving proponents who feel now that the threat has been identified (and the NHTSA study is not the only one to point out the dramatic rise in fatal crashes caused by distracted driving) law makers should be doing everything in their power to prevent it from getting any worse.
Despite opposition from some law makers the NHTSA is moving forward with its efforts to convince automobile manufacturers to work with them to give drivers no choice about whether or not to use their electronics while driving. After all, traffic school can help you remove the points from your license, but it simply cannot bring you back to life if you’ve been killed by a distracted driver.