Cities Taking Action against Distracted Driving

Article excerpt

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Raymond H. "Ray" LaHood will address NLC's Transportation Infrastructure and Services Policy and Advocacy Committee this month at the Congressional City Conference in Washington, D.C., on ways that local governments can join the department in their push to stop distracted driving. This will be in addition to LaHood speaking during a general session on Monday, March 15.

Last fall, LaHood convened state and local officials, traffic safety experts, researchers, industry representatives and safety advocates on the topic of distracted driving and preventative steps that the government could take to end this dangerous and potentially deadly behavior.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2008, 5,870 people lost their lives and an estimated 515,000 people were injured in police-reported crashes in which at least one form of driver distraction was reported on the police crash report. Distracted driving comes in various forms, such as cell phone use, texting while driving, eating, drinking, talking with passengers, as well as using in-vehicle technologies and portable electronic devices.

For example, sending and receiving text messages while behind the wheel is a danger made all too real for an increasing number of communities. The significant compilation of tragic news stories, from Washington to Honolulu, leave no room to doubt the devastating threat distracted driving poses on each and every community. Solutions vary, but consent in favor of intervention is predominantly unanimous and support is strong between all levels of government and both sectors of the economy.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) recently released a sample law flamework designed to assist city and state governments in banning the deadly practices, such as sending text messages. The sample framework and other information on the Distracted Driver initiative is available at www.distraction.gov.

On October 1, 2009, President Obama issued Executive Order 13513 banning government employees' ability to text while driving. …