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Crackdown on Distracted Driving Could Mean No More Bluetooth

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Federal and state government officials are indicating they'd like to crack down more on distracted driving. While that may be good for traffic safety, it's not so good for domestic automakers that have made driver-distracting features a major selling point in their new vehicles.

The Governors Highway Safety Association will take up a measure on Sunday that will urge banning all cell-phone use in vehicles, including hands-free. If that leads state legislatures to make the policy law, Ford and General Motors could be forced to cripple their Sync and OnStar systems, whose Bluetooth calling capabilities have been popular with auto critics and customers.

As for those systems' newer features, which allow e-mails and Facebook feeds to be read aloud to drivers? Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, at his distracted-driving summit today, indicated he's not amused:

"Features that pull drivers' hands, eyes and attention away from the road are distractions. Period. So I'm going to meet with and work with the auto companies to develop new safety guidelines for technology in vehicles. Together, let's put safety before entertainment."

The automakers are pressing the GHSA not to pass its anti-cell-phone resolution, which puts them in the position of arguing against
government-backed research that shows hands-free calling is just as distracting as talking on a handset. So, they could be looking at an uphill fight there.
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