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Directions in Highway Safety, Summer 2009 Cover Page Download Newsletter pdf
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Summer 2009 | Vol. 12 | No. 2

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Secretary LaHood to Convene Distracted Driving Summit

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has announced plans to convene a summit this fall to address driver distraction and, in particular, cell phone use and texting while driving. The announcement of the summit comes as increased national attention is focused on the issue of distracted driving.

The New York Times has been conducting a detailed analysis of the issue which has resulted in at least four front page stories. In late July, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute released a groundbreaking study indicating that text messaging could increase the likelihood of a crash or nearcrash by 23 times for operators of trucks. Researchers indicated this crash likelihood was also applicable to other vehicles (see Virginia Tech Study Draws Attention to Cell Phone and Texting Risk for more information about the Study).

Distracted Driving Image

State legislatures have been very active on this topic. 17 states and D.C. now ban texting while driving—more than double the number of states that banned the practice at the end of 2008.

The announcement of the Summit was praised by GHSA and other safety advocates. According to GHSA Executive Director Barbara Harsha, “We are particularly interested in strategies for enforcing texting and cell phone bans as well as technological applications that would limit or eliminate distractions. The Association looks forward to working with the Secretary and other partners as we develop distracted driving countermeasures.”