Consumer Reports is absolutely killing it when it comes to distracted driving coverage. Last week, I reviewed their April edition, in which Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, a tireless advocate for stricter distracted driving laws, said he would use his clout to push for a nationwide anti-distracted driving law. Later in the week, the magazine’s car blog profiled some groundbreaking youngsters leading the next generation of vehicle safety advocates. And today, the advocacy group’s website will host LaHood in a conversation titled “Distracted Driving Shatters Lives.”
Once a fringe concern, the importance of distracted driving has swelled with the increased use of technology. Last year, the Department of Transportation reported nearly 6,000 deaths and half a million injuries related to distracted driving. Although thirty states and the District of Colombia have passed laws against distracted driving, enforcement remains weak and LaHood himself has admitted that insufficient enforcement undercuts the laws. Even before enforcement is an issue, though, the responsibility lies with parents and educators to teach safe driving behavior to their children and students, the subject LaHood intends to speak about this morning.
Ray LaHood and Consumer Reports have been spreading important information about distracted driving for years now. But oftentimes safety guidelines are ineffective unless they come from an age peer or close connection with a powerful story. For this reason, I hope to see youth-led grassroots groups like Teens in the Driver’s Seat and Students Against Destructive Decisions take more of the responsibility for spreading distracted driving awareness. Students can also find inspiration in 16 year-old Laura Saldivar, who got involved in anti-distracted driving campaigns at the age of 10, when her cousin was killed in a distracted driving accident. She is an active participant in National Organizations for Youth Safety and SADD, among other groups.
Tune in to the Consumer Reports Facebook page for Secretary LaHood’s conversation about the dangers of distracted driving and how to prevent dangerous behavior among teens. And check out our parents section for more about teen drivers and the best ways to advocate vehicle safety.
Photo credit: mrJasonWeaver