Drivers

States Ramping Up Distracted Driving Efforts

June 16, 2010

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States are ramping up their efforts to combat distracted driving, with 28 states, Washington, D.C., and Guam now banning text messaging by all drivers
States are aggressively pursuing solutions to distracted driving including: stronger laws, increased data collection, new education programs, public/private partnerships and a growing reliance on new media to spread the message. (Photo by Jim Park)
States are aggressively pursuing solutions to distracted driving including: stronger laws, increased data collection, new education programs, public/private partnerships and a growing reliance on new media to spread the message. (Photo by Jim Park)
, according to a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Distracted driving has become a priority for many state highway safety agencies, with 27 states, Washington, D.C., and Guam including it in their Strategic Highway Safety Plans. These plans reflect the statewide highway safety priorities of state safety-related agencies including Departments of Transportation, Departments of Motor Vehicles, as well as highway safety offices and many other state and local agencies. GHSA expects additional states to include distraction as these plans are updated.

According to the report, the number of states collecting information about distraction as a factor in crashes is up to 43 states and Washington, D.C., compared to only 17 collecting this data in 2003.

States are also boosting their education on distraction, with 32 states and Washington, D.C. that now have distracted driving sections in their driver license manuals. In 2003, only five states had these sections. In addition, 37 states and Washington, D.C. have public information/education campaigns to warn about the dangers of driver distraction. Eight states noted they have initiated efforts to provide training or technical assistance to the judiciary on this topic, the report found.

The report also pointed to the increased use of public-private partnerships, including 35 states that are working with other state agencies and private employers to address distracted driving. Sixteen states and Washington, D.C. have worked with other state agencies or private companies to develop distracted driving policies for their employees.

States are also ramping up their use of technology to educate motorists about the dangers of distracted driving. Currently, 15 states and Washington, D.C. use social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to promote anti-distracted driving messages.

"As a nation, if we are going to successfully address driver distraction, it must be done comprehensively, through a multifaceted approach including education, laws and enforcement, data collection, and private sector involvement," said Vernon F. Betkey, Jr., GHSA chairman. "Our new report shows states are already going down this road. We know from our experiences with drunk driving and seat belt use that there is no magic bullet, and the same holds true with distracted driving."

"Curbing Distracted Driving: 2010 Survey of State Safety Programs" was completed for GHSA by The Vermette Group in Ashburn, Va.

Distracted driving will be a key topic addressed at GHSA's 2010 Annual Meeting coming up in September, with the theme "Technology and Highway Safety: What's Driving Our Future?" For more information about the conference, visit www.ghsa.org.

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