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GHSA News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 7, 2010

Contact: Jonathan Adkins
(202)789-0942, ext. 13

Distracted Driving Remains Serious Highway Safety Challenge

Statement for Attribution to Vernon F. Betkey, Jr., Chairman, Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—I am delighted to join Secretary LaHood at the Department of Transportation today. GHSA is extremely grateful to Secretary LaHood and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for their national leadership in raising awareness of the distracted driving problem.

Distracted driving is an emerging problem but a significant highway safety issue. According to NHTSA, in 2008, nearly 6,000 people were killed in crashes in which distracted or inattentive driving was a factor. However, we know that this is underreported because distracted driving data is difficult to collect.

Certainly most of the attention has been on texting and driving but there are a host of other distractions including cell phone calls (both handheld and hands-free) as well as more traditional ones such as eating, adjusting the radio, using the CD player or talking to passengers. Drivers need to be reminded to manage these distractions safely.

States are reacting quickly to driver distraction—nearly 30 have already banned texting for all drivers. As more data and research become available, we expect states to continue to act promptly. For a full list of state laws regulating texting and cell phone use while driving, visit: www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/cellphone_laws.html.

State highway safety agencies are committed to addressing driver distraction through a comprehensive approach including laws, education, enforcement, employer policies and the use of technology. Just two weeks ago, GHSA released a new report detailing state distracted driving countermeasures. The report shows that states are implementing many strategies to begin to turn the tide against distraction.  The report is online at www.ghsa.org/html/publications/survey/index.html.

The federal and state governments are not trying to inconvenience drivers. Rather, we are trying to save their lives. No call, text, or any other distraction is worth a life or serious injury.

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For more information about the event at the Department of Transportation, visit www.dot.gov.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)® is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy and enhance program management. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit www.ghsa.org.