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NHTSA, cellphones and distracted driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has asked cellphone makers like Samsung, Motorola and Apple to help them protect road users in Louisiana and around the country from distracted drivers. According to the federal safety agency's figures, about 10 percent of those who lost their lives in road traffic accidents in 2015 were killed in a collision that involved at least one distracted car or truck driver, and the widespread use of cellphones and other mobile devices while behind the wheel is seen as a leading reason for this type of crash.

The agency wants cellphone makers to incorporate features that would allow their devices to be paired with the electronics systems of vehicles or put into a highly restrictive driver mode. The goal of pairing devices is to encourage drivers to keep their eyes on the road, and it wants the screens of paired devices to be only able to display emergency notifications.

The driver mode sought would allow cellphones to display mapping and GPS information, but text messaging, image display and video playback features would be disabled. The cellphone recommendations are contained in the agency's wider distracted driving guidelines. Members of the public and trade groups have until Feb. 3 to submit comments about the proposals. The subsequent review and implementation process could then take up to a year or more.

The injuries suffered by occupants of other smaller vehicles involved in high-speed semi truck collisions caused by a distracted truck driver are often catastrophic in nature and can often be fatal. People who have been harmed in such an accident may want to meet with an attorney to see if the trucking company itself could be held financially responsible.

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