Second National Distracted Driving Summit set for Sept. 21

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Texting Driver

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that the second National Distracted Driving Summit will be held Sept. 21 in Washington, D.C., building on the growing momentum sparked by the first summit last fall. Leading transportation officials, safety advocates, law enforcement, industry representatives, researchers and victims affected by distraction-related crashes will convene to address challenges and identify opportunities for national anti-distracted driving efforts.

“Working together, we can put an end to the thousands of needless deaths and injuries caused by distracted driving each year,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says. “By getting the best minds together, I believe we can figure out how to get people to put down their phones and pay attention to the road.”

Last fall, LaHood held the first Distracted Driving Summit, after which the Obama administration enacted an executive order banning all text messaging by four million federal employees while they’re driving government-owned vehicles, while driving any vehicle on official government business, or while using mobile devices issued by the government while behind the wheel. LaHood also taped a national PSA and launched a new government website, www.distraction.gov, to provide the public with a comprehensive resource about how to get involved.

At this year’s event, experts from across the country will explore accomplishments since the first summit, as well as challenges that lie ahead. Key topics will include research, technology, policy, public outreach and best practices in enforcement. Additional details will be released as they become available at www.distraction.gov/2010summit.

In the year since the first Distracted Driving Summit, dozens of state and local governments have enacted anti-distracted driving legislation, and the federal government has established texting bans for commercial truck and bus drivers. DOT helped victims establish a national nonprofit advocacy organization called FocusDriven and launched pilot law enforcement campaigns in Hartford, Conn., and Syracuse, N.Y.

Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that in 2008, nearly 6,000 people died and more than half a million were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver, while more than 20 percent of all crashes that same year involved some type of distraction.