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Transportation Government United States

US Agency Aims To Regulate Map Aids In Vehicles 216

Posted by samzenpus
from the the-right-way-to-go dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with news about proposed rules regarding mapping technology used in cars.Many are in favor of rules that prevent texting while driving, but in-car navigation is a murkier legal area — how do you minimize distractions without limiting the ability to get from point A to point B? Like it or not, the US government may settle that debate before long. The proposed Grow America Act would let the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) set rules for dash-mounted GPS units, smartphone mapping apps and anything else you'd use for driving directions. While it's not clear what the NHTSA would do with its power, the Department of Transportation's voluntary guidelines ask for limits on eye-catching visuals (think videos) and interaction times; don't be surprised if these enter the rulebooks.
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US Agency Aims To Regulate Map Aids In Vehicles

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16, 2014 @02:33PM (#47248313)
    This will all be wasted time once Google perfects the self driving car.
  • What The?!? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by realperseus (594176) on Monday June 16, 2014 @02:37PM (#47248353)
    Our government has better things to do than waste MY tax dollars on such nonsense! Sigh..
    • by Gothmolly (148874)

      No, they don't. Not anymore. Not since people swallowed the premise of the "Federal Family". Because 51 > 49, bread and circuses will always win. And because Commerce Clause.

    • Re:What The?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Monday June 16, 2014 @03:12PM (#47248597) Homepage

      The rate of US car fatalities has plummeted 75% over the past 45 years, largely due to government mandates and the NHTSA. The hundreds of thousands of people who are alive today because of those actions probably don't consider it "nonsense".

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Dishevel (1105119)
        Because if Honda were allowed to sell cars without seat belts and airbags you would buy them.

        Regulations are rarely a good thing. Massive regulation is always a bad thing.

        • It's weird how Libertarians never cite any data to support their statements.

          • by Dishevel (1105119)
            I am sorry. Was that a statement saying that you would or would not buy them?

            I am unclear as to what your point was. What statistics were you looking for?

            Maybe your problem was with my statements. How would you amend them?

            Regulations are always a good thing. Massive regulation is even better.

            or

            Regulations are almost always a good thing. Massive regulation usually works.

            or

            Regulations are never a good thing.

            or

            Regulations are rarely a good thing, but massive regulation is how you fix things.

            What exac

          • It's weird how Libertarians never cite any data to support their statements.

            Says the guy whose premise essentially boils down to, "Regulations are good because I'm pretty sure they're the reason some people still exist."

            That sounds a lot more like unfounded opinion than supporting data to me, Mr. Pot.

      • The hundreds of thousands of people who are alive today because of those actions probably don't consider it "nonsense".

        Actually, yes we do.

    • Didn't you know? Even more regulation is all we need to a happier and more prosperous life.

      • Didn't you know? Even more regulation is all we need to a happier and more prosperous life.

        Didn't you know? All we need for a happier and more prosperous life is to go completely Thunder Dome!

        • Didn't you know? Even more regulation is all we need to a happier and more prosperous life.

          Didn't you know? All we need for a happier and more prosperous life is to go completely Thunder Dome!

          Why not? I already run Barter Town...

    • Look, those dollars are gone. It's over. You're never getting them back. Let them go.

      Now, if the government is going to waste the dollars they take I wish they would spend MORE money on silly stuff like this rather than blowing craters in the sand or giving it for free to big banks. Yes, it would be great if this money went to NASA, or disease prevention and cures, or creating a more educated populace, but really, there are so many worse areas they could have spent this time and money, you should be g
      • by Dishevel (1105119)
        I like that argument. Let me break that one down.

        The government SHOULD waste our money on a thing because you found a thing that is even a bigger waste of our money.

        Perfect.

    • by sjames (1099)

      So, when you're going down a crowded highway you're fine with it if the GPS app in the truck next to you goes to a commercial break featuring boobies?

  • by pablo_max (626328) on Monday June 16, 2014 @02:38PM (#47248363)

    Maybe they should consider getting all of the various other areas they "oversee" under control before they start trying to expand their power even further.

  • Overreach much? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by russotto (537200) on Monday June 16, 2014 @02:42PM (#47248387) Journal

    They want to regulate mapping apps on smartphones, including those not installed in vehicles? Seems like more than a bit of a stretch.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Probably vehicle guidelines; which is a good thing.

    • I can understand the motivation. People who are entering a new destination to their satnav whilst driving are paying very little attention to the road and are a big hazard.

      But the only way to implement it on a handheld device is to restrict by speed. And I quite often like to monitor where I am with GPS when I'm on public transport. So I'd lose that. As would people who are navigating from the passenger seat of a car.

      Tricky one.

      • Re:Overreach much? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mellon (7048) on Monday June 16, 2014 @03:00PM (#47248513) Homepage

        This latter bit is a real problem in our Prius: you can't enter a destination without stopping. It lets you do other things, just not that. Really annoying, because it's almost always the case that when we need to enter directions, we're driving somewhere together. It would be nice if the NHTSA rules allowed for passengers.

        • My 2006 buick detects if someone is not wearing a seatbelt and turns off the passenger side airbag if no one is in the passenger seat {it didn't come with GPS}. If the GPS is built into the car I see no reason why it couldn't do the same.

          You need bricks to put in the car for traction? No, to trick the car into thinking there is someone in the passenger seat so the GPS works when it's not in park.

          • by Golddess (1361003)

            My 2006 buick detects if someone is not wearing a seatbelt and turns off the passenger side airbag if no one is in the passenger seat

            .....WHY??? Sure, it might be unnecessary if no one is sitting there, but what possible benefit is conferred by disabling an airbag?

            • That way if you are in an accident you don't have to pay for it to be repacked/replaced if not needed? I have no idea I didn't design the car.

            • Cost & not sending things flying at ~200mph

            • by flink (18449)

              My 2006 buick detects if someone is not wearing a seatbelt and turns off the passenger side airbag if no one is in the passenger seat

              .....WHY??? Sure, it might be unnecessary if no one is sitting there, but what possible benefit is conferred by disabling an airbag?

              It might be a child safety thing. An airbag can kill someone below a certain size, especially if they are not wearing a seat belt, so it's likely programmed to disable itself if there is less than e.g. 80 lbs in the passenger seat, or if the belt is not buckled. In those scenarios an airbag deploying would do more harm than good by turning an otherwise low risk slow speed crash into potentially fatal one.

        • This latter bit is a real problem in our Prius: you can't enter a destination without stopping. It lets you do other things, just not that. Really annoying, because it's almost always the case that when we need to enter directions, we're driving somewhere together. It would be nice if the NHTSA rules allowed for passengers.

          Question: Is pulling over for 30 seconds to reprogram your toy really that big a deal?

          I tend to work around this problem by planning my trips to unknown territories - this includes Googling my intended route, alternate routes, and taking a bit to study the roadmaps of my destination, to give me a general sense of direction when I get there. If I end up needing to alter the destination address, I always find somewhere safe to pull over, as piloting 2 tons of rolling steel death kind of takes precedent over p

          • by dgatwood (11270)

            Question: Is pulling over for 30 seconds to reprogram your toy really that big a deal?

            When you're driving along an interstate and are trying to figure out what exit has food, yes. Yes, it is. There's no valid reason not to allow a passenger to change the destination while the vehicle is in motion. It's an unnecessary safety misfeature that reduces usability while providing no benefit whatsoever. (The in-dash GPS is pretty much useless for the driver anyway, because it isn't readily visible, and there's

      • by richlv (778496)

        which is still way more safe than messing with a paper map, trying to find the correct page or unfold an elephant's sheet. i'd hate to see navigation features being deliberately made less usable

        • And that's way more safe than wearing a blindfold whilst driving.

          What's the matter with you? If you need to set a destination, do it before you start driving. If you need to change destination, pull over.

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            Why should you have to waste time and energy pulling over, potentially creating a dangerous situation, just so your passenger can enter a new destination on the GPS? Are people really this stupid?

      • You cannot legislate common sense while driving. the same person who is irresponsible enough to enter in satnav coords at inopportune times while driving is the same mother fucker who'll let his big mac and fries flub his driving. It doesn't make sense to single out one form of distraction because it's new, while grandfathering in other tried and true ways to get people killed on roads (makeup, food, screaming children, pets, sleepiness, daydreaming, boredom etc)

        Driving exams are too easy, and drivers ed i

        • And not all driving is equal in terms of concentration.. an empty, straight away stretch of road is probably fine for sending a quick text or whatever you need to do

          And there you proved that you are not a responsible adult and so your opinion is worthless.

          • Oh Jesus Christ Nancy. Depending on the situation, looking away from the road for a second or two at a time is fine.
            I'm sure you've taken your eyes off the road at least once or twice while driving. Whether it is caused by a screaming child, a tomtom or an ipod -- it is truly and utterly irrelevant. My point was that there is some degree of situational awareness needed, and the people who lack this are the ones causing accidents.

            Nice selective quote by the way. By leaving off "IE, don't take your eyes

    • Re:Overreach much? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tysonedwards (969693) on Monday June 16, 2014 @03:07PM (#47248561)
      They want to have the authority to regulate apps that after release have been linked to "safety related issues" that have an intended purpose of being used primarily while driving on a road. They're not asking to regulate all cell phones, or twitter, or Facebook use while in a car (yet), what they are asking for is the ability to bitch-slap developers after the fact who create apps that are designed for use while driving yet lead to distractions, ergo creating safety issues for those likely using said app while driving, presumably on a highway. To that end, is someone more likely to be using Navigon, Garmin, TomTom, or the multitude of other apps while going for a walk, or when driving somewhere?

      And if they incorporated a "Thank you for using MotionX GPS Lite, before giving your your directions, please watch this YouTube video and answer this quick survey!", should NHTSB or anyone else for that matter have the authority to tell them that that is morally wrong, and potentially unsafe behavior, let alone compel them to take corrective action?

      Their request for oversight over this area doesn't seem like a "major" stretch at this point, but it does set a quite unusual precedent that can be used to expand their powers in the future. And as we all have seen in the past, if Government has the potential to grow, it will do so.
      • what they are asking for is the ability to bitch-slap developers after the fact who create apps that are designed for use while driving yet lead to distractions

        Like the ads that pop up on the MapQuest app during navigation. (Yes, yes, I know I'm the only one that uses it.)

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        And if they incorporated a "Thank you for using MotionX GPS Lite, before giving your your directions, please watch this YouTube video and answer this quick survey!", should NHTSB or anyone else for that matter have the authority to tell them that that is morally wrong, and potentially unsafe behavior, let alone compel them to take corrective action?

        In short, yes.

        Slightly longer answer, the roads are for use in the public interest. It's not in that interest to have people distracted in this fashion while driving.

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          I entirely agree that such distractions should not be allowed. However, is this really a problem? Admittedly, I've only been using Google Maps so far, but there's no ads on that. If it isn't actually a problem, then I don't think any regulation is needed.

      • by BitterOak (537666)

        They want to have the authority to regulate apps that after release have been linked to "safety related issues" that have an intended purpose of being used primarily while driving on a road.

        Ultimately though, they only have the authority to regulate what features are sold in cars as they leave the factory (this power derives from the Interstate Commerce Clause). It's up to state governments to set the rules of the road and penalize drivers for breaking those rules. As to whether or not the Constitution allows them the authority to regulate apps isn't so clear. If they are sold commercially in interstate commerce, then they might have such authority, but there might also be First Amendment i

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      They want to regulate mapping apps on smartphones, including those not installed in vehicles? Seems like more than a bit of a stretch.

      The FAA regulates the use of your (smart)phone on planes.
      Is that also a stretch?

    • They're going to regulate my cell's mapping app, eh?

      Not to worry, I can still open the old Rand-McNally while driving if I really need to find a route.

  • see ya (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16, 2014 @02:43PM (#47248397)

    So long speed trap alerts in Waze.

  • by OSULugan (3529543) on Monday June 16, 2014 @02:44PM (#47248407)

    I'd love for them to limit the type and amount of distractions from my wife telling me where to go, too.

  • by MooseTick (895855) on Monday June 16, 2014 @02:58PM (#47248503) Homepage

    There will likely always be an exception. The car doesn't know that you are the only person in the car, and there is no reason that a passenger can't input nav data while the vehicle is in motion.

    This will make for some great action movies though. Imagive the hero doesn't know where he needs to be, but can't stop the vehicle for GPS to work because there is a carload of mafia terrorists chasing him.

    • Don't worry. The plucky geek sidekick will - via phone - talk him through reprogramming his entire GPS operating system by pushing five buttons in the right order. The sidekick will then try to help more by remotely hacking into and reprogramming the mafia terrorists' car to disable the steering. The hero will berate the sidekick after the car nearly crashes into a bus filled with sweet, innocent children. Thankfully, the hero was able to aim his gun (which only had one bullet left) behind him and hit t

      • Don't worry. The plucky geek sidekick will - via phone - talk him through reprogramming his entire GPS operating system by pushing five buttons in the right order. The sidekick will then try to help more by remotely hacking into and reprogramming the mafia terrorists' car to disable the steering.

        Through a 3D VR interface! Running NMap in a terminal! Using Nintendo PowerGloves for the input, of course.

        OT: I kind of miss those terrible moments from 90's hacker movies, don't you?

      • Don't worry. The plucky geek sidekick will - via phone - talk him through reprogramming his entire GPS operating system by pushing five buttons in the right order.

        "This is Unix. I know this."

  • WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kwiecmmm (1527631) on Monday June 16, 2014 @02:58PM (#47248505)

    So what if someone else in the car is looking at the directions while you are driving? Will their ability to look at directions be significantly hampered?

    It is a good thing that these Congress people don't have any important things to worry about so they can focus on this ridiculous crap.

    In the mean time my car might just drive on an interstate with failing bridges, or into a tunnel with ceiling tiles that could fall at any moment, but focusing on this is obviously the best thing for Congress to do.

  • I really want the code running in my dash board to be open source, so that I can *replace* the crud the auto maker put in there with something with dumb limits and restrictions.

  • stupid (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday June 16, 2014 @03:07PM (#47248563)

    As stupid as this is, it will save more lives than any firearms regulation ever will.
    Keep in mind how you feel about this regulation, then re-evaluate your stance on gun control. You don't have to change your mind, just think about it long and hard. Cars kill far far more people every year than guns ever could. Why allow people to have cars? There's no constitutional right to drive... Banning them would significantly reduce global warming pollutants... Ban cars, force public transport and foot traffic.

    • Sigh. Assessing a regulation requires you to look at the benefits AND costs. Banning cars would certainly save a lot of lives, but at huge societal costs. Requiring registration of firearms, and tracking transfers, to allow the sources of illegally used firearms to be determined, would have very modest financial cost, and place minimal burdens on the vast majority of law-abiding firearm owners, while making significant progress toward keeping guns out of the hands of people (criminals and the mentally il

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by wiggles (30088)

        > minimal burdens on the vast majority of law-abiding firearm owners

        In your eyes perhaps, but not in the eyes of the gun holding public.

  • Of my life. Leave me the hell alone.

    • Your point would be better taken if you (and I mean the generic you, not you specifically) did not risk others lives by the actions that you take. I'd be perfectly happy to let you do whatever you wish in your vehicle but when a mistake on your part can kill me, then I'm happy to have the government interfere with your ability to do so.

      • by nurb432 (527695)

        You assume i take actions that risk others. You assume wrong. My statement was not "let me continue to do this" my state meant was " get out of my life "

  • My Ford does it fine (Score:4, Informative)

    by kannibal_klown (531544) on Monday June 16, 2014 @03:12PM (#47248599)

    I may have issues with my Ford, but I think they got it right in terms of Navigation. I have little-to-no reason to have to look at my media center. Everything is done by voice (including asking for an address) and the next-step-direction-guide is on my speedometer where I have to glance on occasion anyway.

    The only improvement I can think of is a really small projection on the windshield saying "Turn right in 0.7 miles onto Main st"

    All voice controlled, so I don't have to even try typing while driving (if I were so inclined). Click my tumb-button on the steering wheel and say "Destination Address" and then state the address when prompted.

    The system's voice prompts me on where to turn, and when. Including the street names and exit number.

    And instead of having to look too far down at my media player (which I COULD), instead there is a mini direction-reminder on my speedometer. Just saying the name of the next turn's street, distance, and a left-arrow / right-arrow / etc. Since I tend to have to glance down at that every couple of minutes anyway it's no big deal.

    No fuss, no typing, no looking too far away from the windshield.

    • unless you miss hearing the last instruction due to external factors or voice text to speech mispronounciation....no nav unit ive seen allows you to just say "say it again" or something, and have the last voice instruction repeated without having to look at and physically interact with the nav unit while driving.

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Monday June 16, 2014 @03:14PM (#47248613) Homepage

    Can we also get rid of animating billboards? Those slideshow transitions are distracting when driving since the brain pays attention to movement.

    • by hurfy (735314)

      LOL, Salvation Army sign is full-color animated display consisting of Name, Time, and Temp. Didn't know they really needed to drum up new business and a totally unneeded use of color/motion not to mention money. Maybe it is there to create a few more poor disabled people :/

    • Especially the ones with the super-bright LEDs. Those things damn near give me seizures, and I'm not even epileptic.

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Monday June 16, 2014 @03:20PM (#47248661) Homepage

    The NHTSA has finally caught up with me.

    Around 2001 or so I rigged a pair of laptops with GPS and Wifi (high tech!) so they relayed coordinates to each other and ran a star-trek esque battle game. The passenger would hold the laptop which showed the opponents position and shields as well as weapons fire. They would feed information to the driver who would dodge virtual torpedoes.

    A few friends of mine tested this out, but I abandoned the project because this surely would have killed people.

  • Please dont do stupid things like regulate that these devices must disable user interaction when the vehicle is travelling over a speed limit.

    Unless the device can accurately detect if there is a passenger or not. This "safety feature" of my cars factory nav/media unit drives me up the wall...the passengers! the passengers! why wont *somebody* please think of the passengers!

  • They should fix it even more so with auto drive cars.

    so you can not get lost in Death Valley

    http://www.npr.org/2011/07/26/... [npr.org]

    directs drivers to trun on to runway at an airport

    http://www.foxnews.com/tech/20... [foxnews.com]

    The road looked clear, at low tide - but the map forgot to show the 9 miles of water and mud between the island and the mainland

    http://news.yahoo.com/gps-trac... [yahoo.com]

    takes goat trail up mountain

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    sending cars down an private road that has no thru access.

  • They waited until the competition was (largely) eliminated by smartphone apps, and Google and Apple were finally in a position to start monetizing the service again (you used to pay for navigation hardware and/or programs) so we will undoubtedly see worsening map quality since there won't be enough revenue for those greedy sumbitches once the regulations are slathered on.

    Call your congress critter and tell him to think long and hard before voting for this act.

An authority is a person who can tell you more about something than you really care to know.

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