Safety & Compliance

Distracted Driving Summit Opens Today

September 20, 2010

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Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will convene a second National Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, D.C., today.
Leading transportation officials, safety advocates, law enforcement, industry representatives, researchers and the family members of victims of distraction-related crashes will come together to address challenges and identify opportunities for national anti-distracted driving efforts.

Schneider National Vice President of Safety Don Osterberg will speak at the summit, along with U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. A live webcast of the summit will air on www.distraction.gov. Osterberg will be a panelist for a discussion covering employer/carrier policies, technology, legislation and research. (Other panelists joining Osterberg include a scientist from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and a researcher with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.)

Monday, LaHood announced that distracted driving-related crashes claimed 5,474 lives and led to 448,000 traffic injuries across the U.S. in 2009. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research, distraction-related fatalities represented 16 percent of overall traffic fatalities in 2009 - the same percentage as in 2008.

In a Sunday op-ed for the Orlando Sentinel, Secretary LaHood revealed the latest statistics, but cautioned that researchers believe the epidemic of distracted driving is likely far greater than currently known. Police reports in many states still do not routinely document whether distraction was a factor in vehicle crashes, making it more difficult to know the full extent of the problem.

"These numbers show that distracted driving remains an epidemic in America, and they are just the tip of the iceberg," said Secretary LaHood.

The NHTSA study found that the proportion of fatalities associated with driver distraction increased from 10 percent to 16 percent between 2005 and 2009. This news comes as overall traffic fatalities fell in 2009 to their lowest levels since 1950.

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