Do we want drivers texting, reading and sending emails or surfing the web while behind the wheel?
No. People die when drivers distract themselves that way.
But we doubt the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's latest set of voluntary guidelines to auto manufacturers will help much.
The NHTS guidelines include a recommendation that devices built into vehicles are automatically turned off unless the vehicle is stopped and the transmission is in park. Necessary safety devices would not be included in the changes.
We think the NHTS is forgetting a few things in their recommendations.
First, drivers are not always the ones using GPS units or other electronic devices in a vehicle. Passengers are often the ones using such things.
Second, the guidelines deal with only devices that are built in to vehicles. Drivers could continue using their own portable GPS units, cellphones and so on.
We have seen critics of the guidelines asking the question: Would federal officials rather a driver try to unfold a road map to see where he's going than use a touch-screen GPS unit? But that is a red herring. Both are distracting and dangerous.
In any case, we understand what the NHTS hopes to accomplish, but there must be better, more effective ways to help, or force, people to drive safely.