Like many industries, transportation officials use statistics to show current trends or to illustrate the scale of certain issues. For instance, earlier this year the Department of Transportation reported that traffic fatalities fell by 9.7% from 2008 to 2009, reaching the lowest death toll since 1950. The reaction by most people reading that statistic is undoubtedly positive because it shows a downward trend in road fatalities. However, the statistic that needs to be mentioned is that despite the trend, 33,808 people still died on U.S. roads in 2009. This is an outrageous number of deaths and we need to remember that numbers like 33,808 is not just a statistic. These are the family members and friends of Americans from accross the country.
This is why I was pleased to read about the DOT’s new video series, Faces of Distracted Driving, on Secretary Ray LaHood’s blog. This campaign helps tell the stories of those who have been personally affected by the issues of distracted driving. Last year, nearly 5,500 deaths and another 500,000 injuries resulted from crashes involving distracted driving. Statistically speaking, 5,500 may sound small, but after hearing the stories of those who’ve been affected, I guarantee these numbers won’t seem like just another statistic. Distracted driving is a dangerous driving behavior and it’s up to all drivers to individually take responsibility for their actions to make our roads safer.