Government officials announced at the second summit on distracted driving held by the Department of Transportation earlier this month that surveys indicated a decline in the use of cell phones while driving, the Associated Press reported. The success is partially attributed to recent legislation enacted in several states banning texting while driving or the use of any handheld mobile device. Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation that addresses distracted driving in an attempt to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities resulting from car accidents.
While the survey results should be celebrated, Secretary Ray LaHood of the Department of Transportation cautioned at the summit that there is still a lot of work to be done. Lawmakers have admitted that some loopholes may exist in the legislation. LaHood addressed those concerns and made several proposals to fix the problems. For instance, hazardous material haulers were not covered by rules that prohibit commercial truck and bus drivers from texting while driving. He also suggested that individual businesses implement stricter driving policies for their employees.
LaHood also warned of the dangers associated with the new technological capabilities installed in vehicles including the ability to access the internet. “Every time someone takes their focus off the road – even if it’s just for a moment – they put their lives and the lives of others in danger,” he said to the group of people attending the summit. He warned that any features that “pull drivers’ hands, eyes and attention away from the road are a distraction,” and suggested that warnings similar to Surgeon General Warnings on cigarette packages could be placed on the packaging of mobile devices. The warning labels would alert users to the risks of distracted driving including serious injury or death.