Gearing up for its second annual distracted driving summit in September, the Department of Transportation has teamed up with Seventeen Magazine and AAA to sponsor a contest promoting safe driving. The coalition will choose the best anti-distracted driving video among thousands submitted to YouTube, publish the winning video on all three websites, and award the winning producer $2,000. The complete rules for the contest are posted at www.seventeen.com/twosecond
Thanks to the overwhelming rise of technology and cell phones, distracted driving has become the number one killer of teenagers, responsible for more than 500,000 deaths each year. According to a survey by Seventeen and AAA, nine of ten teenagers “continue to drive distracted even when they recognize the dangers of doing so.”
The three-pronged coalition is relying on the power of public opinion to help change the dangerous trend of distracted driving. The contest coincides with Two-Second Turnoff Day on September 17, the same week as LaHood’s distracted driving summit. The event got its name from an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report which found that taking your eyes off the road for two seconds doubles the risk of a crash. Spending those two seconds to silence your phone before turning on the car could save lives.
In addition to public pressure, it will take a significant investment in new technology designed to cancel out the effects of cell phones to finally put an end to phone-related distracted driving. To see some of the safe gizmos already available to drivers, check out our new Techie’s Guide to Preventing a Car Accident. It includes the innovations, ranging from BlueTooth to advanced lane departure warning systems, that can reduce common and dangerous accidents.
We learned last month that even if Congress succeeds in passing an auto safety overhaul bill, it will pale in comparison to what safety advocates and consumer unions were hoping for. So to a growing extent, the responsibility for curbing distracted driving will fall on public pressure and tech innovations. The Two Second campaign, related contest, and gadgets described in our Tech Safety resource can help make roads safer, even without legislation from Washington.
Watch the video describing September’s event: