Hey you. Yeah, the one trying to text your friend where you’re going to be later while doing 70 mph down a six lane highway. Just so you know, the Prez thinks what you’re doing isn’t cool, and if you keep it up, you could end up looking like one of those gory car crash videos he’s pushing.
Yesterday, the Obama administration and the Department of Transportation officially launched a campaign against distracted driving and the dangers it entails for both drivers and passengers. In addition to new website (www.distraction.gov), the NHTSA has also released a televised public service announcement.
“Every single time someone takes their eyes or their focus off the road, even for just a few seconds, they put their lives and the lives of others in danger,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “Distracted driving is unsafe, irresponsible and in a split second, its consequences can be devastating.”
The NHTSA estimates that last year alone, 6,000 traffic-related deaths occurred due to distracted driving, and of those accidents, over a half a million people were injured. These statistics have pressed President Obama into action, resulting in an executive order to ban federal employees from texting and talking on the phone while driving a government vehicle. It’s also jump-started several state-wide initiatives (starting in 2010, Oregon, Illinois, and New Hampshire will make it illegal to text while driving, joining other states who already have the law in place including New York), and corporate edicts (Chrysler has now banned employees from texting while driving).
Many more states will most likely follow suit as the NHTSA is aggressively gearing up to make 2010 the year it targets this issue on both a federal and local level. The administration is now conducting Distracted Driving Summits for state legislatures, urging them to put bans into place before the number of text-related injuries and fatalities increases.