LaHood announces ‘distracted driving’ summit

| 8/4/2009

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says that passing laws is not enough to keep drivers’ eyes on the road and away from distractions, so he has announced a public awareness campaign to focus on the dangers of text messaging while driving.

The summit, being scheduled for late September in Washington, DC, will bring together transportation officials, safety advocates, lawmakers and law enforcement to discuss distracted driving.

“If it were up to me, I would ban drivers from texting, but unfortunately laws aren’t always enough,” LaHood said during a press conference Tuesday, Aug. 4.

“We’ve learned from past safety awareness campaigns that it takes a coordinated strategy, combining education and enforcement, to get results. That’s why this meeting with experienced officials, experts and law enforcement will be such a crucial first step in our efforts to put an end to distracted driving.”

LaHood said he plans to announce more about steps to curb distracted driving following the summit.

At the present time, 14 states and Washington, DC, have bans on texting while driving. Federal lawmakers hope to follow suit with a national ban.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, and three other senators introduced legislation July 29 that would ban text messaging or e-mailing while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. The bill, if passed, would apply to drivers of cars, trucks, buses and trains.

– By David Tanner, staff writer