DOT releases ‘Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving’

| June 07, 2012

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Thursday, June 7, released its “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving,” which the department said offers a strategy to address the use of handheld cell phones behind the wheel. DOT said the plan outlines steps stakeholders across the country – from lawmakers and safety organizations to families and younger drivers – can take to reduce the risk posed by distracted driving.

DOT also announced $2.4 million in federal support for California and Delaware that will expand DOT’s “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other” pilot enforcement campaign to reduce distracted driving.

“While we’ve made progress in the past three years by raising awareness about this risky behavior, the simple fact is people are continuing to be killed and injured – and we can put an end to it,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Personal responsibility for putting down that cell phone is a good first step – but we need everyone to do their part, whether it’s helping pass strong laws, educating our youngest and most vulnerable drivers or starting their own campaign to end distracted driving.”

The blueprint, which outlines a plan that builds on initiatives DOT has spearheaded for the last three years:
• Encourages the remaining 11 states without distracted driving laws – Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas – to enact and enforce this legislation;
• Challenges the auto industry to adopt new and future guidelines for technology to reduce the potential for distraction on devices built or brought into vehicles;
• Partners with driver education professionals to incorporate new curriculum materials to educate novice drivers of driver distraction and its consequences. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show drivers under the age of 25 are two to three times more likely than older drivers to send text messages or e-mails while driving; and
• Provides all stakeholders with actions they can take that go beyond personal responsibility to helping end distracted driving nationwide.

Coinciding with the release of the blueprint, LaHood announced that California and Delaware have been selected to receive federal support for pilot projects that will test the effect of increased law enforcement and high-profile public education campaigns on distracted driving.

DOT is providing California and Delaware with $2.4 million of federal support for pilot programs that will examine whether increased police enforcement coupled with paid media and news media coverage can reduce distracted driving over a widespread area. The California program will take place in the Sacramento valley region comprising eight counties and 3.8 million residents, while the Delaware program will be conducted statewide. Both projects are expected to be under way in fall 2012.

The multi-market efforts in these states mirror the approach used in smaller-scale demonstration projects completed in 2011 in Hartford, Conn., and Syracuse, N.Y. NHTSA said the 2011 pilot projects found declines in distracted driving in the two communities tested – with texting dropping 72 percent in Hartford and 32 percent in Syracuse.

Nationwide, 39 states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam have banned texting behind the wheel. Ten states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam prohibit all handheld cell phone use while driving.

  • Rich Charles

    Why don’t they put up more distracting signs along the highways.People have a tendency to slow down and read them as well,causing rear-end collisions.Oh that’s ok,because the DOT put them there.And let’s extend the same laws to police officers talking on phones driving at high rates of speed,only to get off highway and sit in median 5 miles down the road.Yeah,passing at 85MPH to do that is safe!!
    No,let’s make laws for only truckers and four wheelers.It’s the American Way!!

  • Marty Marsh

    What about the dots on the roads,you know how many people use to slam on their brakes untill they figured out what they were about?They would actually cause traffic jams on interstate 80 in PA because of this rocket science.One of DOT’S better moves.
    You can’t regulate responsibilty,but the answer to that is,yeah but we can get rich trying.
    After 39 years of driving I pretty much seen it all.One night going across Jersey I had a guy wreck a brand new truck in front of me,and I mean pretty much totaled.So I stop to make sure the guy was all right and he told me he was reaching for a bag of cookies.Now how do you regulate something like that?
    What about all the rubber neckers that will get on their brakes in the left lane to look at an accident on the other side of the highway?I have the answer for this one,but I don’t like to waste my good ideas.I actually have the answer for alot of this but I’m tired of talking to myself.
    But Rich is right,and it is not about safety,it is about the dollar.

  • Zach Bell

    I have seen multiple wrecks caused by “distracted driving” yet even with advertising, fines and good enforcement, some distractions are very hard to catch. Take cell phones, for example. Not everyone is going to hold the phone up to the ear- some leave it in a cup holder, others have it mounted to the dash or windshield like a GPS (so they can say they comply with the hands-free laws). How can enforcement say your on a phone (or texting) if they can’t see it?

    Gawking is another issue- billboards (some sponsored by the DOT and State Police, for example) can be just as distracting as a cell phone. The DOT doesn’t seem to practice what they preach when it comes to distraction, so it’s up to the driver to avoid looking at the billboard.

    It seems this issue is being brought up because the Government is looking for the almighty Dollar and not focused on developing real, in-vehicle and on-phone solutions to address the problem. I guess they’ll leave that to the private sector via an unfunded mandate, making it truly about the almighty dollar. Why doesn’t the Government do more important things like, per say, pay down the national debt instead of spending money they don’t have on billboards and poorly written laws?

  • ann heisley

    Crosses and wreaths at the side of a highway are distracting too as anything else. People talk, people listen it is part of life using a headset, bluetooth etc is appropriate and is needed. Who wants to be without a phone when communicatons fail in the rig? Had that happen. Too much false blame. too much policing to hide the monies allocated to the wrong people and places.

  • ann heisley

    Broken Drivers seat and broken equipment that allows a truck to funtion properly for a driver is also an issue as are APU fumes. Nobody seems to want to police the carriers ignoring these problems nor do they want to enforce the resolutions to those easy fix situations. Any report can be manipulating to look like it is something that it is not as can any statistic.

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