Tuesday, June 17, 2014

U.S. DOT aims to regulate navigation apps

In effort to combat distracted driving, the U.S. Department of Transportation is angling to regulate navigation apps on smartphones.

The measure, included in the Obama administration’s proposed transportation bill, would specify that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has the authority to set restrictions on the apps and later order changes if they are deemed dangerous, much the way it currently regulates mechanical features of cars.

Many drivers rely on apps like Google Maps or Apple Maps as an alternative to the more expensive, built-in navigation devices. While many states, including Kansas, have laws prohibiting texting they do not regulate using your phone for navigation.  However, because it is too difficult to distinguish what drivers are using their phones for-- drivers have received tickets for using maps on their phones.

Car accidents are still a leading cause of death and injury in the United States, and as of 2011, smartphones are involved in 23 percent of vehicle-related accidents.  And thus, proponents of this measure argue that regulation is needed to improve safety.

Critics of the measure argue that the U.S. DOT does not software engineers or the budget to regulate this issue and to keep up with technology as a whole.

Do you think smartphone navigation apps should be regulated?  Let us know in the comment section below.

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