Sunday, 11 April 2010

April Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

The US House of Representatives this week passed a resolution designating the month of April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The move is part of efforts to tackle what many federal safety agencies and legislators have recognized as a serious threat to motorist safety. In fact, distracted driving threatens to surpass drunk driving and speeding as the biggest cause of highway fatalities accident fatalities in the US.

The month may be called a generic "distracted driving" month, but there is no doubt that the primary focus of the campaign will be against technological distractions while driving. This includes the use of cell phones and text messaging while driving. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has made the campaign against distracted driving a core part of his tenure as the country’s transportation chief.

Also this month, he announced that the federal administration will contribute $400,000 towards the cost of running a year-long anti-distracted driving campaign in Syracuse in New York and Hartford in Connecticut. The campaign will include a high visibility advertising campaign with the slogan "Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other." The campaign will also include a four-week long, high-intensity, cell phone law enforcement campaign in these cities.

According to Sec. LaHood, the campaign is a test to judge whether such incentives can substantially impact distracted driving accident rates. Several such campaigns have been carried out to combat drunk driving with great success in the past, and Las Vegas distracted driving accident lawyers hope that this success can be replicated with distracted driving too.

As with the problem of driving under the influence, the problem of distracted driving is a complex to beat. For example, there is still little consensus about what kind of cell phone use is harmful. Is it just text messaging? Are hands-free cell phones safe? If not, then should we simply have a ban on all cell phone use behind the wheel?

Meanwhile, the march against distracted driving continues. On April 30th, television talk show queen Oprah Winfrey will declare "No Phone Zone Day." That day's show will be dedicated to combating distracted driving. The show will end with a pledge by viewers to never use the phone while driving. The Oprah Winfrey show website currently has a campaign on, encouraging people to sign up, pledging that they will avoid using the phone while driving, and so far, there are 160,000 signatures on the website.

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