On Dec. 5, 2016, NHTSA published a notice in the Federal Register proposing the agency’s Phase 2 Distraction Guidelines for Portable and Aftermarket Devices.
Unlike NHTSA’s Phase 1 Guidelines (which applied to OE in-vehicle interfaces), the Phase 2 guidelines apply to the visual-manual interfaces of portable devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets, and navigation devices) and aftermarket devices (i.e., devices installed in the vehicle after manufacture). The Phase 2 Guidelines apply to the interfaces of portable and aftermarket devices used in light, medium and heavy vehicles.
The proposed Phase 2 Guidelines present two concurrent approaches for mitigating distraction associated with the use of portable and aftermarket devices by drivers.
First, the proposed Guidelines recommend that portable and OE in-vehicle systems be designed so that they can be easily paired to each other and operated through the OE in-vehicle interface. Assuming that the OE in-vehicle interface conforms to the Phase 1 Guidelines, pairing would ensure that the tasks performed by the driver while driving meet the time-based, eye-glance task acceptance criteria specified in the Phase 1 Guidelines. Pairing would also ensure that certain activities that would inherently interfere with the driver’s ability to safely control the vehicle would be locked out while driving (i.e., the “per se lock outs” referred to in the Phase 1 Guidelines).
The second approach recommended by the proposed Phase 2 Guidelines is that portable devices that do not already meet the NHTSA glance and per se lock out criteria when being used by a driver should include a Driver Mode that is developed by industry stakeholders (i.e., Operating System or handset makers).
The Phase 2 Guidelines also include recommendations for aftermarket devices (devices that are intended to be permanently installed in the vehicle), which were not addressed in Phase 1. The proposed Phase 2 Guidelines suggest that aftermarket devices meet the same task acceptance criteria and other relevant recommendations as specified for OE interfaces in Phase 1.
With regard to conformance and lead time, NHTSA states that the Phase 2 guidelines are voluntary and non-binding and therefore they do not have a “lead time” in the same way that a FMVSS or other regulation has a lead time. The document states clearly that portable and aftermarket device manufacturers, application developers, and vehicle manufacturers are not required to meet the NHTSA Guidelines. That said, NHTSA believes that it would be reasonable for affected parties to ensure compliance with final guidance in 16 months time.
Comments on the Phase 2 guidelines are due Feb. 3, 2017.
Docket Reference: NHTSA-2013-0137