Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
(Washington, DC -- Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) When it comes to stamping out distracted driving, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has already been to the mountaintop once. Now he's ready to go a second time.
The Department of Transportation plans to hold a second distracted driving "summit" in to be held in Washington, DC, in September. LaHood has made driving-while-texting and other forms of distracted driving a public priority at DOT.
The federal government has little direct influence over driving laws, since they're mostly reserved for the states. But LaHood saw to it that texting while driving was banned in the federally-regulated commercial trucking industry. LaHood also credits his first distracted driving summit as main force behind a growing number of state and local laws cracking down on texting and the other forms of distracted driving. Topics at the summit will include research, technology, policy, public outreach, and best practices in enforcement, according to a DOT release.
Earlier this month LaHood publicly shamed a pair of Washington, DC PR and lobbying firms.
The firms were trying to recruit cell phone makers and other companies for a campaign to push back against anti-distracted driving efforts.
DOT statistics suggest that one-fifth of all car crashes and up to 6,000 deaths per year can be blamed on distracted driving.