U.S. Wants To Ban Facebook Use By Drivers

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wants automakers to redesign devices that currently let drivers use social media.

The U.S. Department of Transportation wants to stop Facebook use by drivers.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has asked automakers to redesign devices that currently let drivers to access social networks to not function while a car is moving, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

In a set of non-binding, or voluntary, rules issued today, the agency is also calling for disabling devices that enable manual texting, Internet browsing, 10-digit phone dialing and the ability to enter addresses into a built-in navigation system for drivers unless a car is parked.

The guidelines are part of the U.S. government’s broader effort against distracted driving, which killed 3,092 people in 2010, according to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Agency.

While the Transportation Department is calling for the voluntary disabling of wireless and Internet connectivity devices in cars, the automobile industry has been following their own self-imposed distracted driving guidelines since 2002. Their guidelines call for a ban on any tasks that take longer than two seconds away from focusing on the road.

Will a ban on Internet use in vehicles — which would halt Facebook and Twitter updates — really come to pass?

It’s unlikely a mandate from a government agency will do the trick. As Facebook’s mobile applications start to include advertising and other features, it’s feasible that even more time will be spent per visit to the site.

In order to ban texting while driving, each state had to pass its own laws. This year opened with 35 states banning text messaging while driving, according to HandsFreeInfo.com. The effort at the state level took more than a decade.

It could take nearly as long to extend these new rules to include social networks, such as Facebook. I don’t think avid Facebook users will have anything to worry about in the short-term. And it will be interesting to see how and whether new state laws reduce the number of deaths that result from distracted driving.