Recent concerns about the dangers of text messaging and other distractions while driving have prompted a gathering in Washington, D.C., to address the issue in late September
The summit will bring together senior transportation officials, elected officials, safety advocates, law enforcement representatives and academics to discuss ideas about how to combat distracted driving.
"If it were up to me, I would ban drivers from texting, but unfortunately, laws aren't always enough," said Ray LaHood, U.S. transportation secretary. "We've learned from past safety awareness campaigns that it takes a coordinated strategy combining education and enforcement to get results. That's why this meeting with experienced officials, experts and law enforcement will be such a crucial first step in our efforts to put an end to distracted driving."
The summit was prompted by a number of deadly accidents involving text messaging. An operator of a commuter train who was texting on a cell phone crashed in California, killing 25 people and injuring 135 others. A Florida truck driver was texting before colliding with a school bus that killed a student. A few weeks ago, a 17-year-old high school student from Peoria, Ill., was killed when she drove off the road while texting with friends.
Last week, a Virginia Tech study on the dangers of texting while driving hit the national media, and a federal bill was introduced to get states to ban texting while driving.
"The bottom line is, distracted driving is dangerous driving," said LaHood. "Following next month's summit, I plan to announce a list of concrete steps we will take to make drivers think twice about taking their eyes off the road for any reason."
For more information and updates on the summit, visit www.rita.dot.gov/distracted_driving_summit.