The Department of Transportation is busily working with automakers to find a way to limit the number of distractions for drivers presented by the many new electronic devices included in today’s vehicles.

The DOT used Syracuse, New York, to pilot a program meant to limit the amount of distractions drivers can be exposed to while operating a vehicle and the program is being hailed as a success.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is now the single most likely cause of fatal traffic crashes in the United States and account for more crashes than those caused by driving under the influence of alcohol.

New York defensive drivers know better than to take their hands off the wheel to answer a cell phone call, or look away from the road to read or send a text message, but unfortunately, not everyone does.

The Department of Transportation is backing the NHTSA effort to convince all states to ban the use of handheld devices by all drivers and is even going as far as working with automakers to make certain all the new technology being installed in vehicles does not add to the number of distractions.

New cars today contain built in display screens, web access, GPS devices and an abundance of tools meant to make driving easier and safer, but if the driver becomes distracted by this technology, looks away from the road for even a moment, they might find themselves involved in a serious crash.

Some states, in fact 36 at last count, have already taken steps to ban the use of handheld devices by drivers, or at least texting and driving. These states have enacted laws which provide for severe penalties for drivers who violate the ban and allow police officers to stop drivers they see violating the ban.

It is possible the DOT tests and the NHTSA report will create a safer driving environment for all of us.

Image: Damian Brandon /