Referring to distracted driving as an “epidemic,” transportation secretary Ray LaHood has been the Obama administration’s boisterous champion of fighting the dangerous practice, most recently releasing a plan to combat cell phone use behind the wheel.
His plan, called the “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving,” aims to make driving safer through a list of steps including encouraging the remaining 11 states without distracted driving laws to enact such legislation, challenging the auto industry to adopt new future guidelines for in-car technology use, incorporating new material to address distracted driving in new driver education classes and more.
“Distracted driving is an epidemic. While we’ve made progress in the past three years by raising awareness about this risky behavior, the simple fact is people are continuing to be killed and injured – and we can put an end to it,” LaHood said. “Personal responsibility for putting down that cell phone is a good first step – but we need everyone to do their part, whether it’s helping pass strong laws, educating our youngest and most vulnerable drivers, or starting their own campaign to end distracted driving.”
The DOT is also providing $2.4 million in funding between Delaware and California in a pilot program to step up enforcement of distracted driving laws. That program will study whether or not media ad campaigns and increased law enforcement can have a positive impact on the number of distracted driving accidents in both states. Data collected will then be used as a demonstration for further implementation in other states if it is successful.
While knowledge about the danger of using a mobile device while driving is spreading, the DOT reports that 75 percent of those surveyed admitted to using a phone behind the wheel.