The acting Chairman of the National
Transportation Safety Board has issued a plea to the consumer electronics
industry to use technology to reduce the death toll caused by distracted
On Friday, Jan. 6, Mark V. Rosenker spoke at
the International Consumer Electronics Show, an annual industry event held in
Las Vegas, NV. The event has traditionally been the launching point for the
latest in consumer electronics and communications technologies, including cell
Rosenker said the industry had “a rare and
dramatic opportunity to directly improve safety” by addressing driver
distraction, both individually and in cooperation with government agencies and
academia. Citing recent NTSB road accident investigations, he noted, “the
driving environment has gotten more complex, making it more challenging to
successfully accomplish the driving task.”
In the short term, Rosenker said, there is
technology that can improve safety in the driving environment. Adopting those
safety enhancements and making them readily available to consumers should be an
industry priority, he said.
Rosenker also highlighted the need to reduce the
distractions for young drivers who are learning how to drive and for whom the
crash rates are higher than for any other age group. He noted that the NTSB has
recommended that teen drivers – while operating under the graduated driver’s
licensing programs found in many states – not be permitted to use wireless
communication devices while driving.
“Novice drivers are in the process of
learning a very complex task,” Rosenker said.
Rosenker stressed that the NTSB did not want
to restrict everyone’s use of cell phones or other electronic devices. Its aim,
he said, was to encourage the safe and responsible use of these devices by all
drivers, while protecting novice drivers.
The consumer electronics industry, Rosenker
stated, can play an important role in creating systems that give today’s
challenged drivers “increased functionality, increased convenience and