TODAY

TODAY   |  April 24, 2013

DOT requests technology to curb distracted driving

The Department of Transportation is asking automakers to install technology that would limit the amount of time a driver must take his or her eyes off the road to 12 seconds by disabling texting, web surfing, and video phoning while the car is moving.

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>> new push to curb distracted driving this morning. it's a problem that kills as many as 3,300 people every year. well, now the government is asking automakers to limit how you use touch screens in your cars. nbc's tom costello has more on that. tom, good morning.

>> reporter: hi, matt. we're talking about how long your fingers should be able to touch a screen to change a radio station , dial a phone number, even texting messages while you're driving. because every second that your eyes are not on the road, you, your passengers, other drivers are at risk.

>> i just want to give up so bad.

>> reporter: you may have seen will craig on the internet.

>> i'm currently suffering from a severe traumatic brain injury.

>> will's life changed forever five years ago when he was riding in a car in which the driver was speeding and texting.

>> she texted the word "where" and the letter "r." and it kills me every time i see someone texting and driving.

>> reporter: each day, americans transmit an astonishing 6 billion text messages . and in january, aaa reported nearly 35% of drivers admitted to reading a text or e-mail while driving in the past month. 26% admitted to typing while driving. now. the department of transportation is asking automakers for help. to install technology that limits the time a driver must take his or her eyes off the road to two seconds at a time, 12 seconds in a total, by disabling text messaging , web surfing , and video phoning while the car is moving.

>> we're not mandating it, but we're saying if you do this, we think it will save lives.

>> reporter: meanwhile, another study out from texas a&m finds that voice-activating texting, where the user dictates a text message , rather than types it in manually, is no safer than manual texting.

>> what we found was is that the response times were about two times slower, no matter which texting method was used.

>> my whole, my dreams, my ambitions, they're taken -- i was robbed of them. they were taken from me. no, they were stolen from me.

>> reporter: as for limiting what you can do in a car, that's integrated with the technologies integrated into the car itself, the car industry says it supports this, but it's also concerned that drivers will simply switch back to mare manual devices and these can also, of course, be very distracting. they want to see if there's a way to block this technology while the car is in motion as well.

>> i love that campaign that's out there, it can wait. tom costello, thanks very much.