HOUSTON - Automakers attending the Intelligent Transportation Society of America's (ITS) annual exposition on May 5 underscored two industry-led initiatives: the Driver Focus Guidelines and the EcoDriving USA program. 

The Driver Focus Guidelines are principles on the installation, design and operation of in-vehicle technologies. The EcoDrivingUSA program provides drivers with tips to boost fuel efficiency -- in part by encouraging motorists to pay close attention to their driving environment. 

"Automakers have continued to provide consumers with more fuel-efficient and ever safer automobiles," said Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. "And we're working with others to do even more. ITS America advocates for many technological advancements that will work with vehicles to even further enhance efficient and safe auto travel." 

In 2003 the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers voluntarily developed and implemented the science-based Driver Focus Guidelines. These guidelines were created in consultation with ITS America in an effort to ensure that vehicle features can be operated with quick, interruptible glances so drivers can focus on driving. 

"Today's automobiles have GPS systems to help us find our way, and emergency crash notification to save lives," McCurdy said. "For future safety needs, we must preserve the wireless connection in cars to enable the next generation of vehicle safety technologies, including emerging intelligent transportation systems where cars will have the ability to 'talk' to each other and the roadway. We need more integrated hands-free systems that help drivers focus on the road." 

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Portable devices that a driver brings into a vehicle were never designed to be used while driving, and can be distracting. Keeping eyes on the road is critical to safe driving, and one recent study, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute's "100-Car" study, found that the odds of a crash or near-miss more than doubled when a driver's eyes were off the road ahead for more than two seconds. 

"Digital technology has created a connected culture in America that has forever changed our society," McCurdy said. "Taking a 'just say no' approach to technology won't turn back time. Managing technology is the solution, and that's why automakers developed guidelines to help drivers keep their 'eyes-on-the- road.'" 

EcoDriving's objectives are similar to ITS's goals of advancing safer and more efficient roadway travel. The program offers easy-to-use best practices for driving and vehicle maintenance. A typical EcoDriver can increase fuel efficiency by an average of 15 percent. 

EcoDriving tips include driving practices such as avoiding rapid starts and stops, maintaining the optimum vehicle speed and knowing when to use air conditioning instead of rolling down windows. Maintenance practices include properly putting on the gas tank lid and reducing a vehicle's aerodynamic drag. 

For more details, go to http://autoalliance.org/files/DriverFocus.pdf 

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