DOT Holds 2nd National Distracted Driving Summit
On September 21, the Department of Transportation held its second national Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, D.C. Building on last year’s success, the full-day event convened leading transportation officials, safety advocates, law enforcement, industry representatives, researches and victims affected by distraction-related crashes to address challenges and identify opportunities for national anti-distracted driving efforts. The Summit was webcast live at www.distraction.gov, enabling participation of people around the nation.
Since the first Distracted Driving Summit in 2009, twelve states have passed texting bans. This summer, The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) published a detailed report summarizing state activity. The report, Curbing Distracted Driving: 2010 Survey of State Safety Programs, details a host of approaches states are implementing. The GHSA has also posted “10 Tips to Manage Driver Distraction” online at www.ghsa.org.
At the 2010 Distracted Driving Summit, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced that he is initiating a new rulemaking to prohibit commercial truck drivers from texting while transporting hazardous materials. LaHood also announced that two rules proposed at last year’s Summit have now become law: a rule banning CMV drivers from texting on the job and restricting train operators from using cell phones and other electronic devices while in the driver’s seat.
The DOT has also engaged the private sector to promote anti-distracted driving policies in the workplace. The DOT and Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) announced that almost 1,600 U.S. companies and organizations have adopted distracted driving policies to date, covering approximately 10.5 million workers nationwide. An additional 550 organizations have committed to adopting policies that will cover another 1.5 million employees within the next 12 months.
“We are taking action on a number of fronts to address the epidemic of distracted driving in America…we are going to do everything we can to put an end to distracted driving and save lives,” said Secretary LaHood.
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 percent of overall traffic fatalities in 2009. The NHTSA study found that the proportion of fatalities associated with driver distraction increased from 10 percent to 16 percent since 2005. This news comes as overall traffic fatalities fell in 2009 to their lowest levels since 1950.
Secretary LaHood cautioned that researchers believe the epidemic of distracted driving is likely far greater than currently known. Police reports in many states still do not routinely document whether distraction was a factor in vehicle crashes, making it more difficult to know the full extent of the problem. "These numbers show that distracted driving remains an epidemic in America, and they are just the tip of the iceberg," said Secretary LaHood.
To view the archived webcast of the 2010 Distracted Driving Summit, and to learn more about the DOT’s efforts to stop distracted driving, visit www.distraction.gov.
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