AAA Statement on Department of Transportation Distracted Driving Guidelines

Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 21, 2012. AAA—the nation’s largest automobile club—is encouraged by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) recent first-ever federally-issued guidelines to automakers on in-vehicle electronic devices. With the explosion of in-vehicle wireless communications technologies, automakers, safety advocates and government agencies must work together to ensure that these products can be operated safely and that they are not simply making it more convenient and more appealing to drive while distracted.

“AAA considers Secretary LaHood’s Phase I guidelines to be a step in the right direction. But available research evidence is extremely limited and highly inconclusive on the real risks that in-car communications technologies pose to drivers, even when systems are limited to voice-activation only,” says AAA CEO and President Robert L. Darbelnet. “Until the weight of evidence suggests that safety risks are mitigated, AAA urges drivers to use caution when using these in-vehicle technologies and strive to keep their hands on the wheel, their eyes on the road, and their focus on the important driving task.”

This year, AAA and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety are sponsoring groundbreaking research by the University of Utah that will enable AAA to advise consumers about the relative risk posed by various devices and technologies. This study will help inform the wider policy discussion about the role of technology in addressing distracted driving and ultimately help educate motorists through a robust public safety campaign.

AAA and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have long been leading advocates in educating motorists about the risks of distracted driving. Most recently, AAA launched a legislative campaign in 2009 to advocate for all 50 states to enact bans on text messaging. To date, 35 states have adopted this key traffic safety measure. AAA also partnered with Secretary LaHood and Seventeen magazine to educate teen drivers on the dangers of distraction through the Two-Second Turn Off campaign.

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance, vacation planning, discounts and financial services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA Arizona Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 roadside assistance calls across the state. In 2008, AAA was ranked the No. 1 “socially responsible” brand by Landor’s BrandAsset® Valuator. In 2010 and 2011, AAA Travel earned Lovin’ Life After 50’s favorite travel agency category in the publication’s annual reader’s choice awards. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers and the motoring public.