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New NHTSA guidelines for driver mode on cell phones

In an effort to help curb the dangers of distracted driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recently proposed the idea of a new "driver mode" cell phone setting. The setting would be manual since technology cannot currently differentiate between a driver's phone and a passenger's phone. In the future, however, technology may allow for such a switch to be automatic.

Driver mode would cut back on a number of cell phone functions such as displaying photos, videos and text as well as running any other tasks that are not related to driving. However, drivers would be able to send and receive emergency communications.

The voluntary guidelines are part of an overall effort by the NHTSA to reduce the number of distracted driving accidents. Traffic-related deaths are on the rise, and distracted driving is one of the main causes. The NHTSA plans to encourage cell phone manufacturers to develop a mode that pairs with vehicles to shift into driver mode.

This development may have additional implications for truck operators who drive as part of their jobs. A truck accident might be caused by driver fatigue, equipment malfunction or distracted driving. Even without the NHTSA guideline in place, if a person is injured in an accident caused by another driver who is on the job, the victim could file a lawsuit against the driver responsible. This may be necessary if the individual is seriously injured and the insurance company does not offer enough compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, vehicle replacement and other costs.

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