We can stop the Distracted Driving epidemic
Secretary Ray LaHood
September 29, 2009
02:40 PM EST
02:40 PM EST
The Distracted Driving summit we announced in August convenes tomorrow, and I can't wait to get started.
Folks, it's simple: a driver operating a cell phone or texting while driving is SIX times more likely to be involved in an accident. SIX times.
If you're driving down the road, trying to dial a number or text, you cannot pay appropriate attention to the car in front of you or the car behind you or the traffic and pedestrians around you.
How do we know this? Because over 80% of car accidents occur while drivers are distracted in some way.
Americans are waking up to the danger distracted drivers pose to themselves, to us, and to our loved ones. We can no longer afford to ignore new technology's impact on road safety.
Suddenly, everyone–automakers, safety advocates, motorists' associations, insurance companies, school officials, trucking industry groups, parents of victims, children of victims, law enforcement agencies; newspapers, websites, bloggers, editors, television networks–is saying the same thing: distracted driving needs to stop.
We've all observed the rise of this hazard, and I want to spend these two days seeing what we can do to stop this deadly epidemic on America's roadways.
The summit will gather senior transportation officials, elected officials, safety advocates, law enforcement representatives, private sector representatives, and academics–an array of folks whose expertise can help us meet this challenge.
We'll clarify the scope and various sources of the problem, then look at ways to manage it–whether through education and public awareness initiatives or legislative and regulatory approaches and enforcement.
A great feature of the 2-day meeting is that we're webcasting it. And viewers of the live webcast can submit questions online to the panelists they're watching. It's quite an opportunity for the public to get involved in this historic dialogue.
Look, we're not out to take anyone's technology away; we just want people to drive safely. And it's not just texting and cell phones and navigation systems; driving with your attention anywhere but on the road–for any reason–is just too dangerous.
So, please join us this Wednesday and Thursday either at the summit or for the live-stream online and figure out the best way to move forward on this.
Ray LaHood is Secretary of Transportation