Oh, sorry, wasn't paying attention
Distracted driving is the subject of a two-day summit that the Department of Transportation kicked off today.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned more than 200 attendees about the dangers of distracted driving and pledged to take action at the federal level to combat this "menace to society."
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"We need a combination of strong laws, tough enforcement and ongoing public education to make a difference," he said. But "in reality, you can't legislate behavior . . . taking personal responsibility for our actions is the key for the solution."
But whatever approach is chosen, one is needed soon, say experts. In 2008, 5,870 traffic fatalities, 16% of all road deaths that year, occurred in crashes involving distraction, said Bruce Magladry, director of the Office of Highway Safety at the National Transportation Safety Board. In the year before, 12% of fatalities came from crashes involving distraction.
This data comes at a time when traffic fatalities are otherwise on the decline, which is a pretty remarkable accomplishment when you think about how many more of us are driving these days compared to, say 25 years ago. Probably attributable to safer cars and increased awareness of (and enforcement of) drunk driving laws. Speeding and driving while distracted are the two next big targets.
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