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In-Dash Navigation Systems the Focus of NHTSA Guidelines

When people shop for a new car, they often have different models in mind. Before they make their final decisions, they may take a car for a test drive or compare the different features of each vehicle. Car manufacturers have made many of these standard options in their vehicles in an effort to improve sales.

One of the more popular features in new vehicles involves the use of in-dash GPS services. The devices show the driver where his or her vehicle is located, and use a scrolling map to allow for up-to-the second directions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Agency, hoping to reduce the number of car accidents caused by distracted drivers, has recently recommended modifications to these types of navigation systems.

The agency wants certain safety functions put in place, such as reduced text visible to drivers, as well as audio directions instead of screen-based directions. Officials are concerned that the continued advancements in technology are leading drivers to pay more attention to in-dash features rather than the road.

The NHTSA has proposed a 30-character limit on any text that appears on these screens, hoping to reduce the amount of time a driver's eyes are off of the road. Many of these in-dash systems may also allow drivers to be able to text while driving or have internet access while behind the wheel.

Officials have asked automakers to disable these features while the vehicle is in operation, or, at the very least, make it impossible for drivers to see. Passengers would still be able to use and access these items, as long as they did not interfere with the drivers.

Source: Cnet.com "Fed driver distraction guidelines make navigation unusable" Wayne Cunningham, March 21, 2012.

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