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DOT Pressures Law and Auto Makers over DD

Transportation Secretary LaHood calls a Second Distracted Driving Summit as Congress, industry ignore the deadly issue.

by on Jul.28, 2010

Particularly lethal is the widespread use of cell phones, now a global problem.

While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is prohibited by the U.S. Congress from promulgating regulations concerning distracted driving, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been using his “bully pulpit” to oppose the well financed auto, electronics and cell phone lobbies whose devices are enabling almost 6,000 deaths each year and more than 500,000 injuries. (See Smart Phones Add to Distracted Driving Epidemic)

Congress is showing no interest, to put it politely, on telling voters to stop using cell phones during an election year when all incumbents face ousting from angry voters.

Auto companies have their own conflicts of financial interest in this area, as they compete with each other to add more electronic devices to equipment lists. (See BMW to Offer Incoming E-Mail with Voice Output and DC Showdown over Distracted Driving Lobbyists)

Therefore there is no surprise in this bureau that LaHood has just announced that a second National Distracted Driving Summit will be held on 21 September 2010 in Washington, DC. More than 100 million people each day are now engaging in dangerous distracted driving behavior.

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Distracted Driving Ticketing Campaigns Underway

Enforcement Campaigns in Hartford and Syracuse Fight DD.

by on Apr.08, 2010

NHTSA has not taken the simple steps to make cell phone use in vehicles by drivers illegal.

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood today announced that the DOT is starting pilot programs in Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse, New York to test whether increased law enforcement efforts can get distracted drivers to put down their cell phones and focus on the road.

Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that in 2008, nearly 6,000 people were killed and more than a half million people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver nationwide.

Almost 20% of all crashes that same year involved some type of distraction. Yet, the nation’s safety agency has not taken the simple steps to make cell phone use in automobiles by drivers illegal in all 50 states.

Many states have banned texting while driving – 21 of them so far. While some, including Connecticut and New York, have banned hand-held cell phone use.

The pilot enforcement programs, similar to previous drunk driving and safety belt use programs, are the first federally funded efforts in the country to focus on the effects of increased enforcement and public advertising on reducing distracted driving.

Drivers caught texting or talking on a hand-held cell phone will be pulled over and ticketed. The message is simple, “Phone in One Hand. Ticket in the Other.”

“Law enforcement will be out on the roads in Syracuse, NY, and Hartford, CT, with one simple message, if a driver is caught with a cell phone in one hand, they’ll end up with a ticket in the other,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “It’s time for drivers to act responsibly, put their hands on the wheel and focus on the road.”

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