Friday, September 24, 2010

DOT hosts Distracted Driving Summit; Foundation to host Heads Up Driving Week

Earlier this week I attended the Distracted Driving Summit hosted by Department of Transportation and Secretary Ray LaHood. The summit featured a wide cross section of the transportation community but it was clear that everyone had a shared goal – stop distraction on our roads. In support of the summit, the AAA Foundation released new distracted driving statistics from our Psychological Foundations of Safety Culture study and 2010 Traffic Safety Culture Index survey which found that fifty-five percent of drivers feel less safe than they did five years ago with the main reason being distracted driving.

Similar to previous surveys, the results showed that drivers understand the risks associated with talking and texting while driving, yet many continue to engage in this dangerous behavior anyway. In fact, motorists rated texting while driving (88%) equally as dangerous as drinking while driving. While I’m glad to hear drivers are beginning to understand the seriousness of distraction, the “Do as I say, not as I do” attitude is still an obstacle we must overcome to improve safety. This is precisely why next week the AAA Foundation and AAA are urging drivers to commit to seven days of distraction-free driving during the second annual Heads Up Driving Week Sept. 26 to Oct. 2. During this week, we are calling on all motorists to drive distraction free, “Try it for a week, do it for life.”

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Decline in Traffic Deaths A Step In the Right Direction

The Department of Transportation just announced roadway deaths are the lowest they’ve been in 60 years despite an increase in the number miles driven. Statistics show that traffic deaths fell by 9.7% from 2008 to 2009 and the 33,808 deaths is the lowest since 1950. The decline is a clear signal of the hard work being done by to change our traffic safety culture. Increased seat belt usage, safer road designs and stronger enforcement of laws are all contributors to the decline. However, we have to keep in mind the most important fact – 33,808 people still died on our roads last year and that’s still an outrage. I'm pleased that 3,600 fewer people died in 2009, but there are still issues that threaten our safety on the road. Distracted driving is a major problem that will get worse as new in-vehicle technologies are developed. Cell phones, GPS navigation systems, other passengers and pets are all potential distractions and taking your eyes off the road for one second is all it takes to cause a crash. I think Secretary LaHood’s reaction to this news sums things up well, "We could not be happier, but we are not going to sit back on our laurels. We have a long, long way to go."