Distracted driving is dangerous driving

August 4, 2009

From the Official Blog of U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood

When I was home in Peoria a few weeks ago, Alyssa Burns, a 17-year-old high school student was killed when she drove off the road.

It turns out she was texting while driving.

We’ve all seen the footage of the bus driver who was talking and texting on two cell phones while driving.

He smashed into the back of a car, injured the driver, and ended up driving into a swimming pool.

The horrific commuter train crash last year in California involved an operator who was too busy texting to pay attention to what he should have been doing. As a result, 25 people were killed and 135 were injured.

If it were up to me, I would ban drivers from texting.

But we’ve learned from our efforts to get people to wear seat belts and to persuade them not to drive drunk that laws aren’t always enough. Often, you need to combine education with enforcement to get results.

That’s why I announced this morning that I have decided to convene a summit of senior transportation officials, safety advocates, law enforcement representatives, members of Congress and academics who study these matters.

We will meet next month to discuss how to put an end to the rash of accidents and fatalities that have cropped up because of distracted driving.

When we are done, I expect to have a list of concrete steps to announce.

The bottom line is, we need to put an end to unsafe cell phone use, typing on blackberries and other activities that require drivers to take their eyes off the road and their focus away from driving.

I’ve said from the day I was confirmed as Secretary of Transportation that safety is our number 1 priority.

We all know texting while driving is dangerous – and I promise you we’re going to do something about it so that responsible drivers don’t have worry every time they, or a loved one, gets on the road.