This morning, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood joined with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to launch a “Global Call to Action on Ending Distracted Driving.” LaHood announced on his website yesterday that the event marks international collaboration between US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice and Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin to say “Hang up,” “Put it down,” and “Just drive.”

LaHood has been outspoken in his dedication to dull the overwhelming effects of distracted driving. Last month, for example, he called it an “epidemic” on par with other international health issues. But the issue extends far beyond the United States. According to theWorld Health Organization, 1.2 million people are killed, and up to 50 million are injured each year in road accidents. By 2030, the WHO says, such fatalities will surpass HIV/AIDS, cancer, and violence to become the world’s 5th leading cause of death.

But, says LaHood, that fate is preventable. Since driver behavior is responsible for up to 90 percent of accidents, a concerted effort to weed out distracted driving could make a serious dent in those sobering statistics. Here in the United States, 25 states and the District of Columbia have already passed distracted driving laws, and seven have banned hand-held cell phones in the driver’s seat. It’s a promising start, and states like California continue to lead the charge toward stricter regulations against the dangerous but ubiquitous practice.

There are three ways to get involved with the Global Call to Action on Ending Distracted Driving. First, visit the event’s Facebook page and become a fan. Secretary LaHood is also urging supporters to tweet the following message first thing on Wednesday May 19: “The global call to end distracted driving–will you respond? Hang up; put it down; just drive. #gcedd” And be sure to watch the event unfold live at 10:30 am EST this morning.

But most importantly, make sure that everyone in your family agrees to stop distracted driving in all situations. That phone call or text message can surely wait until you reach your destination, especially if it means preventing an auto accident.

Photo credit: poka0059

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Andy Gillin

Andy Gillin received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Berkeley and his law degree from the University of Chicago. He is the managing partner of GJEL Accident Attorneys and has written and lectured in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury law for numerous organizations. Andy is a highly recognized wrongful death lawyer in California.