In Washington a government meeting was held September 30, 2009 to discuss the growing issue from the last year of distracted driving specifically related to the use of electronic devices, according the a report by Ken Thomas, from Breaking News 24/7. In the two day meeting that was called the “distracted driving summit”, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was a major expert in the discussions. “LaHood said the administration would “work with Congress” to develop ways of curbing distracted driving. The meeting would solicit ideas to address the problem “similar to what went on with seat belts and (blood-alcohol limits of) 0.08 where you really educate the public, where you tell people that they have to take personal responsibility for these things.””
Here are some key statistics behind the issue:
-Driver distraction connected to almost 6,000 killed and 500,000 injured last year
-Driver distraction was involved in 16 percent of all fatal crashes in 2008
-Age 20 and younger is the largest fraction of distracted drivers
-16% of under-20 drivers involved in fatal crashes were reported to be driving distracted
-Drivers of heavy trucks when texting increase their risk of collision 23 times, according to Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
-Car and Driver magazine reported texting and driving to be more dangerous than drunken driving
-Text messaging has increased per month as seen in a study by CTIA-The Wireless Association (a cellular phone trade group), which reported 10 billion text messages in December 2005 to 110 billion in December 2008
-18 states and the District of Columbia have made texting illegal while driving (from Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
-7 states and the District of Columbia have made talking on a handheld cell phone illegal while driving as well (from Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). To see a chart on which states have banned which electronic device usage, see: http://www.iihs.org/laws/cellphonelaws.aspx
Another speaker at these meetings was Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat from N.Y., who along with other Democrats at the meeting, “introduced legislation in July that would require states to ban texting or e-mailing while operating a moving vehicle or lose 25 percent of their annual federal highway funding.” It was said that the Obama administration has not indicated their position on this proposal.
These discussions focused on how to go about working with Congress, and set the right motions in place to change the behavior of drivers to eliminate the root of the problem: distraction. LaHood said “We need a combination of strong laws, tough enforcement and ongoing public education to make a difference” and stop this driver distraction which he calls a “menace to society”.