Kate Hinds covers transportation for WNYC News.
LaHood: Cellphone Use While Driving A "National Epidemic"
Thursday, June 07, 2012 - 03:44 PM
US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has stepped up federal efforts to combat distracted driving, which he says are responsible for ten percent of all traffic fatalities.
The Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving, released Thursday, builds on efforts first piloted in Syracuse and Hartford. It calls for more public awareness, police enforcement, and driver education about the dangers of texting while driving. It also encourages the 11 remaining states that lack anti-texting laws to pass them.
While a recent government survey found that teen seatbelt use is up and drunk driving is down, over half of all high school seniors admitted to texting or emailing while driving.
On his blog, LaHood wrote that deaths from distracted driving are entirely preventable. "In 2010, at least 3,092 people were killed on our nation's roads in distraction-affected crashes. That's approximately one in every ten fatalities, and we can put an end to it."
The DOT is also funding a $2.4 million pilot program in California and Delaware that will examine whether increased police enforcement coupled with advertising and news coverage can significantly reduce distracted driving.
The blueprint can be downloaded here (pdf).