Sunday, March 25, 2012

NHTSA wants you to have a paper map unfolded on your lap while you drive

Remember how much safer you were trying to read that giant, fold-up, paper map while you drove, before all these dangerous navigation systems were installed in cars?  Neither does NHTSA.  They seem to have forgotten how bad it was and are focusing on how bad it is.  They have recently issued new Driver Distraction Guidelines which propose that "Dynamic, continuously moving maps are not recommended."  Apparently moving things distract you while you drive.  So, no more navigation systems.

Fortunately for now, it's just "guidelines".  These are recommendations that you can voluntarily follow.  Or that manufacturers should voluntarily follow.  Unfortunately, as we all should know by now, voluntary suggestions by the federal government which are not adopted by everyone soon become burdensome regulations.  After all, the cry of "we asked them to be reasonable, but they refused, so now we have to force the issue" is regularly heard in the halls of the bureaucracies.

Was just browsing through some links looking for some information I wanted to add to this article, and stumbled across this interesting analysis.  Richard Wilhelm, over at Mondaq, a website devoted to " legal, accounting, regulatory and commercial issues", suggests that NHTSA has no authority to issue defacto safety standards under the guise of "voluntary guidelines". Wilhelm may not have been paying attention.  Those of us who have been fighting for motorcycle rights for the past twenty years are very familiar with the folks over at NHTSA and their propensity to do whatever they want, regardless of their mandate or the law.

Want to read the guideline yourself?  Go to this page and do a search for the word "map".  It will take you right there.  It's Section V.5.b.

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