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Posts Tagged ‘Distracted Driving Summit’

LaHood Opens Second Distracted Driving Summit

New distracted driving regs and employer policies coming. Technology both vilified as a cause and praised as a solution.

by on Sep.21, 2010

It's clear that technology causes the DD problem; there is little data showing that it can solve it. The vehicle is not a mobile device say critics.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood kicked off the 2010 Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, DC today by announcing new anti-distracted driving regulations for drivers transporting hazardous materials, commercial truck and bus drivers, and rail operators.

LaHood said that he is initiating a new rulemaking to prohibit commercial truck drivers from texting while transporting hazardous materials. In addition, LaHood said that two rules proposed at last year’s summit have now become law – rules banning commercial bus and truck drivers from texting on the job, and restricting train operators from using cell phones and other electronic devices while in the driver’s seat.  More than 4,000 people died in heavy truck crashes in 2008, but only 15% of them were in the trucks.

“We are taking action on a number of fronts to address the epidemic of distracted driving in America,” said Secretary LaHood.  “With the help of the experts, policymakers, and safety advocates we’ve assembled here, we are going to do everything we can to put an end to distracted driving and save lives.”

More than 100 million people each day are now engaging in dangerous distracted driving behavior or DD. In 2009, nearly 5,500 people died and half a million were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research, distraction-related fatalities represented 16% of overall traffic fatalities in 2009.

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Feds Outlaw Texting for Commercial Truck Drivers

Another small step for highway safety.

by on Jan.26, 2010

The ban is effective immediately.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today banned texting by drivers of commercial vehicles such as large trucks and buses, effectively immediately.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that more then 6,000 deaths are caused each year by distracted driving and hundreds of thousands more people are seriously injured.

In spite of clear evidence that the problem is growing, and NHTSA’s role to promote highway safety, the government has been slow to regulate electronic devices that are becoming prevalent in all types of vehicles.

The National Safety Council has called for a complete ban of cell phone use by drivers of any moving vehicle. Research shows that talking on a cell phone is the equivalent of drunk driving.

The prohibition is the latest in a series of critics say are largely symbolic moves taken by the Department to combat distracted driving since the Secretary convened a national summit on the issue last September.

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Keep Your Eyes On The Road!

“We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe,” said Secretary LaHood. “This is an important safety step and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving.”    (more…)

NHTSA Opens Distracted Driving Web Site

Will common sense prevail, eventually, against profits?

by on Dec.29, 2009

http://www.distraction.gov/

Electronics and car makers resist fixing a clear safety issue, putting profits ahead of people.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has started a new website for anyone who wants to learn more about what the Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, calls the  “deadly practice.”

The site has news, statistics, the latest research, a summary of state and local laws, and answers to frequently asked questions.

LaHood says his favorite part of the site is the public service television ad in the upper right corner. This 30-second spot–”Calling Plan”–airs nationally this week and makes its point in the clearest possible terms: driving without distraction should be common sense.

Money versus sense

Well, there’s common sense. And there’s money. Electronics, cellphone suppliers and automakers are resisting fixing what is a clear-cut safety issue, putting profits ahead of people, while NHTSA undertakes symbolic actions that do not effectively deal with the growing problem.

Safety!

In 2008, nearly 6,000 people died on American roadways in crashes that involved distracted driving, according to NHTSA. Distracted driving involves anything that takes your eyes off the road for more than two seconds, takes your hands off the steering wheel, or interrupts your concentration while driving.

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DOT Secretary Opens Distracted Driving Summit

Hand-Held Device Use Increasing Among All Drivers.

by on Sep.30, 2009

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Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted driver.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today challenged more than 250 safety experts, industry representatives, elected officials and members of the public to help put an end to distracted driving.

“Every single time someone takes their eyes or their focus off the road – even for just a few seconds – they put their lives and the lives of others in danger,” said Secretary LaHood. “Distracted driving is unsafe, irresponsible and in a split second, its consequences can be devastating.”

The Secretary’s plea opened a two-day Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, DC that will highlight the under-recognized dangers of distracted behavior behind the wheel.

Secretary LaHood also announced new research findings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that show nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted or inattentive driver, and more than half a million were injured.  There are more than six million accidents each year in the U.S.

On any given day in 2008, more than 800,000 vehicles were driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone. Numbers for hand-free cell use were not revealed, as they are difficult to compile.

As expected, the debate continued late into the afternoon over how serious cognitive distraction is in all types of cell phone use. Studies by the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety and the University of Utah show the use of either type of cell phone increases accident risk four or five times.

But Not From The Car!

But Not From the Car!

It became clearer from comments from panel participants and government researchers as the day progressed that the Federal government will regulate devices that take a driver’s eyes off the road. It also appears that the use of hand held phone use would be banned.

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Ford Owned Volvo Tows Line on Cell Phone Use

The Swedish company renowned for auto safety ignores a key aspect in the cell phone use while driving debate.

by on Sep.29, 2009

There's good reason the National Safety Councile wants a total ban on driving and cell phone use.

The National Safety Council wants a total ban on driving and any kind of cell phone use.

Volvo Cars of North America, LLC, (VCNA) is placing full-page ads tomorrow in issues of USA Today and The Washington Post that call for distracted driving legislation.

Publicly taking a position on the need for legislation is apparently a first for Volvo, and the company chose to do so as the Department of Transportation’s “Distracted Driving Summit” in Washington, D.C., which opens tomorrow.

It is indicative of the high stakes and high profits that potentially are on the line if the government bans the use of electronic devices in cars, including phones, moving maps, Blackberries and video players, among others.

The advertisements apparently attempt to change the subject from the dangers of any kind of cell phone use while driving to a position that hand-free cell phone use while driving is safe.

Peer reviewed scientific studies say that it is the cognitive engagement while using either a hands-free or a hand-held cell phone that is the dangerous distraction.

The issue is not the type of phone a driver uses, rather it is the mental distraction caused by the conversation itself. That’s the reason earlier this year the National Safety Council urged a total ban on using cell phones while driving after conducting further studies that confirmed previous research on just how dangerous cell phones are.

NSC said cell phone use while driving contributes to 6% of crashes, or 636,000 wrecks, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries, and 2,600 deaths each year. NSC estimates the annual financial toll of cell phone-related crashes at $43 billion.

Simply put cell phone use is as dangerous as drunken driving.

Volvo and Ford Motor Company, along with virtually all other automakers are attempting to preserve hands-free cell phone use, which they enable with optional or standard equipment telematic devices that allow an increasing array of electronics to be used during driving.

We Concentrate on Driving!

We Concentrate on Driving!

Such scientific studies are likely to be contested tomorrow at the Distracted Driving Summit as powerful and wealthy vested interests attempt to protect the increasing sale of electronic devices that are leading to an “epidemic of distracted during,” in the words of Republican Ray LaHood, who heads the Department of Transportation. As DOT head, LaHood also has charge of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is supposed to protect people from unsafe vehicles, driving conditions and practices.

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Cell Phone Use Showdown Coming at Distracted Driving Summit Next Week in Washington

Automakers are enabling deadly driving behaviors with an increasing array of profitable electronic options.

by on Sep.23, 2009

The National Safety Councile wants a total ban on driving and cell phone use.

The National Safety Council wants a total ban on driving and any type of cell phone use.

Next week when the Distracted Driving Summit called for by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood opens, the debate will intensify around what to do about a growing public safety problem – the role of electronic devices in an increasing number of auto accidents.

Almost 42,000 lives are lost annually on U.S. Highways. And traffic crashes are the primary cause of incapacitating injuries, as well as the number one killer of Americans under the age of 34. In addition to staggering psychological costs, the annual economic loss to society because of these crashes, defined by lost worker productivity, medical costs, and insurance costs, among others, is estimated at more than $150 billion. No one seriously debates that there is a need for an improvement in motor vehicle safety.

Getting unsafe vehicles off the road is now broadly recognized as common sense more than forty years after the Senate  conducted hearings that led to auto safety legislation in 1967, which automakers fought all the way. Now a new deadly threat is emerging from the practices of automakers and sellers of electronic devices. No surprise given the history, automakers are once again fighting rules that could potentially eliminate a substantial number of accidents.

Driver inattention is a leading cause of traffic crashes, responsible for about 80% of all collisions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Moreover, leading the way in this lack of visual and cognitive attention is cell phone use – either hand-held or hands-free. With more than 100 million people each day practicing dangerous distracted driving behavior, the fatalities and accidents such behavior causes is growing. There is also the growing use of in-vehicle telematics and “infotainment systems” that clearly distract drivers.

Particularly dangerous is the widespread use of cell phones. The issue is not the type of phone a driver uses, rather it is the mental distraction caused by the conversation itself. That’s the reason earlier this year the National Safety Council urged a total ban on using cell phones while driving after conducting further studies that confirmed previous research on just how dangerous cell phones are.

NSC said cell phone use while driving contributes to 6% of crashes, or 636,000 wrecks, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries, and 2,600 deaths each year. NSC estimates the annual financial toll of cell phone-related crashes at $43 billion. Simply put cell phone use is as dangerous as drunken driving.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade association of 11 car and light truck manufacturers including BMW Group, Chrysler Group, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen, contends that hands-free phones are safe – but can supply no studies to support that assertion.

Telephone conversation impairs sustained visual attention

We Pay Attention!

We Pay Attention!

The problem with such an obviously self-serving position is that recent peer-reviewed research shows that holding telephone conversations disrupts one’s driving ability in a way similar to drunken driving. (Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 2008, 15 (6), 1135-1140 doi:10.3758/PBR.15.6.1135)

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DOT Announces a Distracted Driving Summit

Pressure is growing to stop ignoring a deadly problem.

by on Aug.05, 2009

Ray LaHood

"The bottom line is, distracted driving is dangerous driving," said Secretary Ray LaHood.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced a summit meeting next month to “address the dangers of text-messaging and other distractions behind the wheel.”

In late September, senior transportation officials, elected officials, safety advocates, law enforcement representatives and academics will convene in Washington, DC to discuss ideas about how to combat distracted driving.

The summit appears to be a response to charges that the Department of Transportation, the government agency responsible for traffic safety, has been suppressing studies showing just how bad the problem is, and, worse, for bowing to Congressional pressure not to pursue regulations that would save lives. 

But once again the announcement skirts the core safety issue, cell phone use, which produces accident rates the equivalent of drunk driving.

Public Citizen and the Center for Auto Safety have charged that since 2003, the government has known that drivers talking on their cell phones experience the same potentially deadly distraction whether they are using a handheld device or hands-free technology. The pressure groups made the accusations after a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act obtained internal documents from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is part of DOT.

The suppressed evidence and opinions by safety experts advising NHTSA have since been confirmed by numerous independent studies.

But not while driving!

But not while driving!

“If it were up to me, I would ban drivers from texting, but unfortunately, laws aren’t always enough,” said LaHood. “We’ve learned from past safety awareness campaigns that it takes a coordinated strategy combining education and enforcement to get results. That’s why this meeting with experienced officials, experts and law enforcement will be such a crucial first step in our efforts to put an end to distracted driving.”

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