Movement to “Distracted Driving”


(Date: 15 January 2010)

There has been significant movement in the past few months regarding how the United States government is addressing our national distracted driving problem.
In September 2009, ITS America participated in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Distracted Driving Summit. We were among 300 safety experts, researchers and elected officials who convened to share our knowledge, insight and recommendations for reducing the growing safety risks caused by driver distractions. ITS America Chief Technology Officer Rod MacKenzie testified on behalf of the ITS America membership about how technology can help address the distracted driving problem.
U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood called the summit one of the most important meetings DOT has ever held and encouraged all 50 states to pass laws banning “texting while driving”. He also announced several restrictions DOT was proposing to ban the use of cell phones and other electronic devices by rail operators, truck and interstate bus operators, and school bus drivers.The U.S. Congress has also initiated hearings on the distracted driving problem.
On January 13th, Secretary LaHood announced the creation of FocusDriven, a nonprofit organization devoted to raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. The new organization will be modeled after Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) with the goal of educating the public about the dangers of distracted driving. FocusDriven is the result of the September summit and subsequent meetings with law enforcement, transportation officials and family members of distracted driving victims. ITS America has played a major role in facilitating these discussions and continues to highlight the positive role of ITS technologies in improving vehicle safety. For example, the ITS America Safety Forum is a community of technical experts from academia, and public and private sector organizations, which have developed a survey on policy issues and best practices in the design and use of ITS technologies to reduce distraction and enhance driver situational awareness.
Our hope is that by evaluating the best practices in the industry that we may better understand and influence the development of policy on this critical issue.

“This article has been brought to you as part of the cooperation between ITS America and ITS Japan.”