Feb 28 by Andy Gillin

Distracted Driving: Not Just a Teen Problem

Modern life is increasingly full of diversions, and some have even crept into the drivers’ seat—phone calls, text messages, on-board video displays, fast food—all can cause accidents by…

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Jul 27 by Andy Gillin

Can Distracted Driving Reduce Car Accidents?

The short answer to the question above is a definitive “no.” With the rise of technology, distracted driving has become a serious problem on US roadways, contributing to nearly 6,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries each year, according to the NHTSA. To solve this problem, many have turned to dangerous distracted driving technologies that make it easier, not harder, to text and talk behind the wheel. Safety advocates and government officials have opposed this tactic, noting that it’s the conversation, not the device, which causes distractions. The best way to avoid distractions is to simply put down the phone while behind the wheel. But a new article by Keith Barry for Wired’s Autopia blog states that distractions might not be the worst thing.

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Jul 20 by Andy Gillin

Report: Volvo Technology Reduces Low Speed Car Accidents

How great would it be to drive to work without having to think about accidental low-speed car accidents? For years now, car companies have been researching collision avoidance systems, which use technology to alert the driver when a collision is possible. Volvo’s XC60 SUV forward collision warning system has received the most attention, and a recent report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicated that the warning system could lead to a significant reduction in car accidents. But is this a new example of dangerous distracted driving technology?

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Jul 14 by Andy Gillin

Distracted Driving Technology Not Enough to Reduce Car Accidents

Automaker Ford has rightfully been praised in recent weeks for supporting New York legislation to ban distracted driving. This week, the auto giant became the first of it’s industry to endorse a ban against texting and talking behind the wheel, but as Streetsblog points out, their endorsement allows a major loophole that could stand in the way of the campaign to eliminate distracted driving car accidents. Although the bill prohibits the use of handheld devices behind the wheel, it permits the use of auto technology to facilitate hands-free conversations, which can still be distracting and potentially dangerous.

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Jun 24 by Andy Gillin

Cars 2 Targets Distracted Driving (VIDEO)

As part of the new advertising campaign for this summer’s Pixar animated film Cars 2, Disney has released a public service announcement that warns about the dangers of distracted driving with the help of characters from the film. The short PSA is sponsored by the film studios and the Department of Transportation to spread the message that “only bad guys drive distracted,” and “one text or call could wreck it all.” The combined DOT and Cars 2 website provides additional information on distracted driving.

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Jun 02 by Andy Gillin

Anti Distracted Driving Accident Campaign Targets Auto Technology

Everyone knows that distracted driving is dangerous. There’s simply no safety replacement for staying focused on the road at all times. But when it comes to improving road safety, people seem divided about whether technology should make texting and talking on the phone easier in order to let the driver’s eyes remain on the road, or whether technology should prevent distractions by blocking cell phone use before the driver’s attention wanders. This week, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have provided their answer with an effort to eliminate distracting technology behind the wheel.

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May 13 by Andy Gillin

National Youth Traffic Safety Month Prepares Teen Drivers for Summer Safety

As we’ve learned in past weeks, May is an important month for traffic safety nationwide. May marks National Bike Month, Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and National Youth Traffic Safety Month. This mode of driver safety awareness comes at the perfect time, as teen car accident statistics spike during the summer months. As Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood points out on his blog, car accident deaths nearly double for drivers aged 15-19 during May, June, July and August. So do your part to reduce teen car accidents and pay attention to National Youth Traffic Safety Month.

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May 09 by Andy Gillin

5 Great Bicycle Safety Technologies for National Bike Month

Cars seem destined for distracted driving. Though it’s essential to pay attention to the road and traffic signs, most cars come equipped with a navigation screen, complicated control panel, or at the very least, a radio. So driver safety technology has a lot to compete with. But the matter is different for bicyclists, who aren’t protected by a metal and glass shield and must always be aware of their surroundings. But that doesn’t mean technology can’t help reduce bicycle accident injuries. In honor of National Bike Month we’ve compiled a list of five of the most interesting technologies designed to improve bicycle safety. Take a look, and let us know of others in the comments section or on our Facebook page.

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Apr 27 by Andy Gillin

Video: Distracted Driving Technology Confuses Test Driver

In the midst of the “Facebook revolution,” Americans are awed by any problem that can be solved by technology. That’s why many car companies and safety advocates have turned to technology to reduce distracted driving. But these high-tech control systems aren’t always slam dunks. New York Times Personal Technology Editor Sam Grobart tested some popular options for a video last week before the New York International Auto Show, and came up with some mixed results, suggesting that distracted driving technologies could make driving even more confusing.

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Apr 25 by Andy Gillin

Ray LaHood to Expand Auto Safety Laws After Distracted Driving Awareness Month

As Distracted Driving Awareness Month comes to a close this week, it’s helpful to look back at what lawmakers and safety advocates have accomplished over the past few years, when distracted driving was really on the rise. While most states hadn’t even considered distracted driving laws five years ago, about 7 now ban the use of handheld cell phones, and more than 30 states prohibit texting while driving. Fortunately, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood isn’t only thinking about distracted driving during April every year. He’s laid out a forward-looking plan that promises to get even more comprehensive as the year progresses.

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Apr 20 by Andy Gillin

California Distracted Driving Editorial Misses the Point: Just Put Down the Phone

No one ever said the law was simple. That’s a tense subject for Silicon Valley Mercury News columnist Gary Richards, who penned an editorial yesterday on California’s “confusing” distracted driving laws. At issue are loopholes that can hold drivers accountable for minor infractions while letting them off the hook for seriously dangerous behavior. While it’s important to point out the inconsistencies in California distracted driving laws that could limit their effectiveness, the editorial misses the point of distracted driving danger: instead of agonizing over these laws, just shut the phone down while you’re driving. That way, you won’t get a ticket, and you won’t get into a serious car accident.

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Apr 19 by Andy Gillin

Police Cite Obstacles to Reducing Distracted Driving Car Accidents

When it comes to distracted driving, laws have come a long way in a short time. Just two years ago, states were just starting to ban handheld devices, and few more had restricted texting while driving. Now, most states ban texting, and seven have launched strong handheld phone laws. But in many cases, police officers continue having difficulty enforcing these laws, even in states with the best laws against distracted driving. Last week, reporters from Consumer Reports rode along with police officers from Syracuse, NY, which has teemed up with the DOT to boost its campaign against distracted driving. Despite some obstacles, their report emphasized the potential for better future enforcement.

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Apr 18 by Andy Gillin

5 Great Cell Phone Apps to Prevent Distracted Driving

With the rise of distracted driving, cell phones are often cited as villains that facilitate dangerous driving practices. But while distracting phone calls, text messages, and games are certainly a large part of the problem, a few tech companies have put significant resources toward developing smart phone applications that will actually make it easier to drive without distractions. Of course, this isn’t always the result. Earlier this month, for example, we listed the top five most dangerous distracted driving technologies. This week, in honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we’re focusing on the good innovations that could lead to a generation of safer cell phones and less distracted drivers. Take a look, and leave your thoughts in the comments section, or on our Facebook page.

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Apr 06 by Andy Gillin

Texas & North Dakota Join California to Reduce Distracted Driving Car Accidents

Since it’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we’ve been writing a lot about efforts to curb distracted driving here in California. Statewide, 225 local police agencies have teamed up with the California Highway Patrol to establish safety zones and declare a “zero-tolerance policy” for distracted drivers. But while California is generally considered a leader in safe driving laws, the trend has caught on, and a number of states nationwide have boosted their driver safety laws right in time for Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

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Apr 05 by Andy Gillin

California Distracted Driving Awareness Month Stresses Enforcement

Though 2010 marked the first annual Distracted Driving Awareness Month, California did not participate in an official capacity. So this year, California is making an impact with a statewide crackdown on distracted driving. About 225 local police agencies will team up with the California Highway Patrol to implement 103 CHP Area Commands and a “zero-tolerance policy” against offenders. A first-time offence carries a $20 fine, but with additional charges, the economic damage can reach over $200. So during Distracted Driving Awareness Month this April, remember to be safe and avoid distracted driving, or your wallet could regret it.

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Apr 04 by Andy Gillin

DOT Boasts Drop in Car Accident Deaths

Based on preliminary data, the Department of Transportation estimated last week that 32,788 people were killed in car accidents in 2010, the lowest number in more than 60 years. The death toll remains way too high, but it’s particularly impressive considering that the number of miles driven last year increased by 21 billion and over the past five years alone, traffic deaths have dropped 25 percent. Praising DOT initiatives, one NBC reporter said the drop was likely due to “safer better cars, DUI enforcement, even the roads we drive on.”

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Apr 01 by Andy Gillin

Distracted Driving Awareness Month Ignites Driver Safety Debate

As April and Distracted Driving Awareness Month rolls around, you can expect safety advocates and lawmakers to discuss the many dangers of distracted driving. But despite reports that distracted driving kills nearly 6,000 people and injures about 500,000 each year, some have said the impact of distracted driving on highway safety has been exaggerated. So in addition to information about technological solutions to car distractions and a star-studded awareness campaign, expect Distracted Driving Awareness Month to reignite the debate about whether or not we need to eliminate the dangerous practice.

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Mar 31 by Andy Gillin

California Boosts Driver Safety Laws For Distracted Driving Awareness Month

For years, the California Highway Patrol has done a fantastic job keeping our roads safe from dangerous drivers and reducing vehicle injuries and fatalities. That job has grown more difficult with the rise of technology and distracted driving, but the CHP will team up with 225 local California police agencies to establish 103 California Highway Patrol Area Commands and enact a “zero-tolerance policy” to combat distracted driving through April; the country’s second annual Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

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Mar 29 by Andy Gillin

States Boost Safety Laws Before Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is distracted driving awareness month, which means that safety advocates and lawmakers will put the issue front and center, trying to find a solution to eliminating distracted driving, which the federal government says is responsible for 6,000 deaths and 500,000 car accident injuries each year. More than 30 states now have some sort of law against distracted driving, so you can expect the remaining states to catch some negative attention this month. North Dakota seems to have missed this scrutiny, as its Senate passed two major anti-distraction bills right in time for Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

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Mar 24 by Andy Gillin

Can We Control the Distracted Driving “Arms Race”?

With just about every driving-related sector trying to make distracted driving less prevalent, is dashboard Facebook access necessary? Clearly, no. But that’s the newest development in a distracted driving “arms race” that has engulfed car companies, each trying to develop cutting edge technology designed to make distraction easier and safer behind the wheel. Of course, some are concerned that making technology easier to use while driving will automatically harm road safety. But due to our society’s focus on business, stopping this trend may be difficult.

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Mar 16 by Andy Gillin

Distracted Driving Awareness Videos Stress Human Connections

Just about everyone knows that distracted driving is dangerous, but almost no one knows how to stop it. Technology is only growing more prevalent, and although cell phone and tech companies have developed distracted driving prevention software, none have made a significant impact. But it’s encouraging to see organizations getting creative about distracted driving prevention. This week, the Canadian 180 Film Contest announced short video winners in three categories: impaired driving, speeding, and distracted driving. Each of the videos are interesting, haunting, and should crush the urge to drive distracted.

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Mar 10 by Andy Gillin

Can National Bike Summit Reduce Preventable Bicycle Accidents?

Lawmakers, cyclists, and safety organizations nationwide traveled to Washington DC this week for the annual National Bike Summit, hosted by the League of American Bicyclists. In past years, the summit has been a forum to discuss issues pertinent to cyclists, connect with advocates from other cities and states, and discuss future goals. But when it comes to the ultimate goal of making roads safer for bicycles and reducing fatal accidents, the strategy has long been unclear. Will this year’s National Bike Summit make a significant step toward reducing fatal bicycle accidents?

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Mar 07 by Andy Gillin

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Talks Distracted Driving Laws & Enforcement

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.”

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Mar 03 by Andy Gillin

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to Advocate Federal Distracted Driving Law

Like drunk driving and wearing a seat belt, avoiding distracted driving is becoming more and more of a no brainer. The Department of Transportation has reported that there were 6,000 deaths and half a million injuries caused by distracted driving last year alone, making it the number one killer of teenagers. But as technology becomes more advanced, the temptation to text, email, or talk on the phone while driving becomes even more of a problem. In a major story for its April edition, Consumer Reports has targeted distracted driving, its major opponents, and listed ideas for what regular people can do to end it.

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Feb 04 by Andy Gillin

New Distracted Driving Gizmo Could Make it Easier to Text

Distracted driving has become a major problem nationwide, killing approximately 5,500 people and injuring nearly 500,000 each year. For that reason, safety advocates, policy makers and scientists have adopted an “all hands on deck” approach to eliminating the dangerous practice. A new intelligent vehicle control system developed by a group of German researchers has taken this effort to unprecedented levels, with a product that would enable to driver to control everything in the car, from the volume settings to temperature, with the wave of a finger.

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Feb 02 by Andy Gillin

Cyclists Included in Proposed California Distracted Driving Law

Since Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood made reducing distracted driving one of his top priorities, the dangerous practice has been the subject of heated debate among safety advocates, policy makers, and the insurance industry. The debate gets even hotter when distractions are targeted for non-vehicular modes of transportation, like walking and cycling. Currently, for example, New York City is considering imposing penalties for distracted walking, and here in California, the legislature has included cyclists in a once-popular law increasing fines for distracted driving, reports StreetsblogSF.

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Jan 27 by Andy Gillin

Distracted Walking Law Proposed to Ease Uptick in Pedestrian Accidents

In the past year, public opinion has nearly coalesced around the fact that distracted driving is dangerous and should be eliminated. But what about distracted walking? A new law proposed in New York that would outlaw the use of electronic devices for pedestrians, including runners, has ignited the debate about distractions and whether the government should step in, even to reduce pedestrian accidents.

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Jan 24 by Andy Gillin

Will Auto Technology Increase or Decrease Distracted Driving Car Accidents?

At this point, just about everyone is on the anti-distracted driving bandwagon. Safety advocates, major celebrities, cell phone companies and more have joined Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to raise awareness about eliminating the dangerous practice. There are some notable holdouts, including the US auto industry, which has enhanced navigation and entertainment systems to improve slumping sales. This week, LaHood will meet with the country’s major automakers to seek help for his anti-distraction campaign. This raises the question of what role technology will have in distracted driving this year and throughout the coming decade.

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Jan 24 by Andy Gillin

California Tops 2010 Pedestrian Accident Fatalities

As part of its ongoing campaign to assess pedestrian safety, the Governors Highway Safety Association has released preliminary data from each state regarding pedestrian fatalities in 2010. Based on the data from the first six months of last year, the numbers look mostly identical to the same period of 2009. But the information also leads the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to guess that the final total will be an 8% decrease from last year’s figures. The news is encouraging, but as in past years, California has reported by far the largest number of pedestrian fatalities, an issue the state must address to boost pedestrian safety in 2011.

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Jan 19 by Andy Gillin

Does New Distracted Driving Study Stretch the Facts on Auto Safety?

Over the past year, the national consensus about distracted driving has solidified as safety advocates, cell phone companies, and celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, agree that it is a dangerous practice that must be reduced. Most notably, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has made the fight against distracted driving one of his signature goals. Regardless, a new study by a duo of economics professors has predicted that talking on the phone while driving could actually reduce car accidents. It’s an interesting headline-grabbing thought, but most likely wrong according to the science, statistics, and common sense.

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Jan 12 by Andy Gillin

VIDEO: Cell Phone Companies Take On Distracted Driving Car Accidents

The fight against distracted driving started with parents who had lost a teenager to the dangerous practice. Soon, the fight picked up steam, earning high profile supporters like talk show mega-host Oprah Winfrey, and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. Now, a sign that anti-distracted driving campaigns have reached the mainstream, cell phone companies are beginning to warn of the dangers of texting, typing, and talking behind the wheel. This week, mobile service provider AT&T released an 11 minute video titled “The Last Text” in order to show the impact of distracted driving from the point of view of those who have lost friends and family members.

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Jan 05 by Andy Gillin

Airbags, Economy Praised for Major Decrease in Car Accident Fatalities

A report released this week in the Journal Traffic Injury Prevention found that over the past five years, the United States has enjoyed the greatest decrease in car accident fatalities since World War II. Between 2005 and 2009, wrote Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan, such deaths have decreased 22 percent, due primarily to air bag improvements and the country’s economic downturn.

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Jan 03 by Andy Gillin

“Glee” Star Jane Lynch Joins LG in Fight to Reduce Distracted Driving Accidents

Did you make any new years resolutions this winter? For the driving safety parent, cutting down on your child’s use of cell phones behind the wheel is a great resolution option. Each year, more than 6,000 teenagers are killed and nearly half a million are injured in accidents related to distracted driving. And safety advocates have said that many of these accidents can be avoided simply by raising awareness. Now, Glee star Jane Lynch has joined the fight against cell phone misuse in a series of videos produced by LG designed to help parents boost cell phone safety for their teens.

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Dec 20 by Andy Gillin

Holiday Drivers Increase Risk of Car Accidents

Due to the increased likelihood of drunk driving and adverse road conditions, winter holidays always carry an extra risk of car accidents. This year, warns the auto advocate AAA, that danger could be even more pronounced, as more drivers are committed to traveling long distances thanks partially to an improved economy. This year, AAA predicts, 92.3 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles from their homes, a boost of 3 million over last year’s Christmas holiday period.

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Dec 17 by Andy Gillin

Fatal California Distracted Driving Accident Carries Major Penalty

Distracted driving is not just dangerous and thoughtless. It’s also a major crime when associated with the most terrifying circumstances. On September 15, 20-year-old Ani Voskanian caused an accident due to distracted driving that killed 80-year-old Misak Ranjbar. This week, Voskanian was charged with vehicular manslaughter in Los Angeles County and placed in jail. Her bail was set at $50.000.

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Dec 16 by Andy Gillin

Portland to Pay Accident Settlement for Pedestrian Struck By Distracted Driving Officer

It’s not a good sign if your city’s police officers are getting in distracted driving car accidents. That’s the case in Portland, Oregon, where police officer Ty Garrison struck an 80-year-old woman while looking at his vehicle’s mobile computer. This week, the city and police department are expected to pay a $338,477 settlement to cover medical costs and other general damages that resulted from the car accident.

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Dec 08 by Andy Gillin

Insurance Industry Continues Opposition to Campaign Against Distracted Driving

The insurance industry is at it again. Addressing the fact that distracted driving causes more than 6,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries each year, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has made cutting down on the practice a top priority. But he has consistently run into knee jerk opposition from the insurance industry and anti-regulation advocates. This week, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reignited its opposition to such laws with the following tweet: “Nevada and Florida are latest states to discuss texting while driving bans – Meantime research shows no evidence of effectiveness.”

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Nov 24 by Andy Gillin

Remember the Faces of Distracted Driving Car Accidents

We spend a lot of time on the GJEL blog discussing distracted driving and the implications of the dangerous practice on a large scale. Since distracted driving contributes to the death of more than 6,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries each year, discussion about state laws to curb cell phone use behind the wheel is important. But such discussion can have the unintended effect of blurring the stories of those who have witnessed the most horrific impacts of distracted driving firsthand. So in honor of Thanksgiving weekend, I wanted to emphasize some of those stories, and memorialize some individuals who cannot celebrate the holidays this year because people continue to drive distracted.

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Oct 19 by Andy Gillin

Iowa Police Get Creative with Anti-Distracted Driving Message

In July, Iowa joined the 30 states that have boosted highway safety by enacting laws against distracted driving. Iowa police cannot impose fines on drivers who disobey the law until July of 2011, so until then, the Wall Street Journal reports, the state’s police have come up with a creative alternative: passing out neon bands with the words “TXTING KILLS” for drivers to wear on their thumbs.

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Oct 13 by Andy Gillin

Self-Driving Car: Safety Hero or Distracted Driving Foe?

Over the past year, Internet giant Google has grown closer to developing a car that can drive itself. The company, which has overseen seven cars traveling more than 140,000 miles, says that such vehicles could improve road safety by taking it out of the hands of drivers. But the idea could raise a number of questions related to safety and liability in the case of a car accident.

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Sep 29 by Andy Gillin

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Fires Back Against Distracted Driving Campaign Critics

Last week, when Insurance Institute for Highway Safety president Adrian Lund doubled down on past criticism of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s anti-distracted driving campaign, I hoped LaHood would respond. On his Fastlane blog Tuesday, he did that and more, launching a spirited and well-researched attack against those who say state and national enforcement agencies shouldn’t do everything they can to crack down on the dangerous practice.

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Sep 27 by Andy Gillin

Insurance Industry Questions Anti-Distracted Driving Programs

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety may be forgetting the power of Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood’s wrath. Last month, the group’s president, Adrian Lund, launched a brief campaign against LaHood’s campaign to end distracted driving. Lund was quickly and sharply rebuked by the Obama administration and soon softened his challenge. But speaking to Jalopnik last week, Lund rehashed his criticism of LaHood’s strategy for curbing distracted driving, concluding that laws “don’t seem an effective strategy for addressing it.”

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Sep 21 by Andy Gillin

California Distracted Driving Rate Jumps Before Annual Summit

As elected leaders, transportation officials, and safety advocates converge in Washington DC today for the second annual distracted driving summit, the level of impact existing anti-distraction laws have had will be front and center. The numbers in California, the numbers are less-than-encouraging. Since the state’s cell phone ban went into effect in January 2009, the number of distracted drivers has actually increased, to 2.7 percent of drivers at any given time, according to the Automotive Club of Southern California.

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Sep 20 by Andy Gillin

Distracted Driving Targetted by AAA, Seventeen Magazine, & Ray LaHood

It’s a big week for raising awareness about the dangers of driving while distracted. On Friday, AAA and Seventeen Magazine teamed up with the Department of Transportation to urge teenagers to take two seconds to turn off their cell phones before getting behind the wheel. And tomorrow, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will host the second annual Distracted Driving Summit in Washington DC. LaHood has been a tireless advocate against distracted driving, and I hope this month’s events will contribute to the movement to make distracted driving as taboo as drunk driving and ignoring seat belts.

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Aug 27 by Andy Gillin

Does NHTSA Focus Too Much on Distracted Driving and Unintended Acceleration?

In an odd policy statement this week, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety criticized the government for focusing too much on distracted driving and unintended acceleration, and ignoring more important safety concerns. “The hypervisibility of these issues diverts attention from initiatives that have far greater potential to save lives,” said the group’s president Adrian Lund. “There’s nothing rational about the way we set highway safety priorities.”

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Aug 26 by Andy Gillin

Will Technology Make Distracted Driving More Dangerous?

This past week, tech blogs have asked an important question for the future of distracted driving: why haven’t we mastered the technology to make cell phone use behind the wheel safe? While a number of car companies, cell phone service operators, and independent techies have probed Bluetooth, voice recognition, and text prediction as potential solutions, no safe driving technology is currently widely used and the number of distracted drivers continues to increase. To make matters worse, new research shows that these tech advances could have a minimal impact, at best, on driver safety.

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Aug 19 by Andy Gillin

Pets Join Cell Phones on Distracted Driving List

San Francisco isn’t the only region cracking down on distracted driving this month. Here in Contra Costa County, California Highway Patrol officers have cited more than 300 drivers this week for violating distracted driving laws which prohibit the use of handheld devices behind the wheel. On Wednesday, the CHP issued nearly 800 citations for the dangerous practice in the Bay Area as a whole, reports the Contra Costa Times.

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Aug 03 by Andy Gillin

Seventeen Magazine Spearheads Contest to Combat Distracted Driving

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 to promote 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

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Jul 29 by Andy Gillin

Secretary LaHood to Host Second Annual Distracted Driving Summit

It’s slowly becoming an undisputed reality that distracted driving is dangerous and state governments should ban the use of hand held devices behind the wheel. Calling for more research and deterrence, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will host the second annual distracted driving summit in Washington DC this September.

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Jun 08 by Andy Gillin

Washington State Adopts Distracted Driving Law: Critics Call Foul

New and improved laws against distracted driving are popping up nationwide. This is partially thanks to the statistical consensus that talking, texting, and typing while driving has a significant impact on vehicle accidents and has made distracted driving the number one killer of teenagers. It’s also the restult of a media offensive that culminated on April 30 with Oprah Winfrey’s No Phone Zone Day. This Thursday, June 10, Washington State will become the newest state to jump on the safer driving band wagon and make the use of a handheld cellular device a primary offense.

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May 12 by Andy Gillin

Wisconsin Joins Battle Against Distracted Driving

Last week, Wisconsin joined the 23 states in the battle to ban texting, typing, and talking while driving a car. “It is a situation in which technology moves beyond the laws of the state and this is a law that has us catch up with technology,” said Governor Jim Doyle when he signed the bill into law. The law will impose a fine of $20-$400 on drivers caught texting or emailing behind the wheel, a fine similar to California’s anti-distracted driving law. In the absence of a nationwide law, teens and insurance companies are starting to take the “epidemic” on firsthand.

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May 03 by Andy Gillin

Oprah’s ‘No Phone Zone’ Day Targets Distracted Driving Epidemic

On Friday April 30, television superstar Oprah Winfrey lent her powerful voice to the fight against distracted driving in celebration of “No Phone Zone Day.” Oprah has been chronicling the dangers of texting, typing, and talking while driving since January, when she dedicated her show to the underreported statistics: 6,000 people are killed and 500,000 are injured in accidents caused by distracted driving.

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Apr 19 by Andy Gillin

California Senator Joe Simitian: Distracted Driving Laws “Will Take Time, Education, & Enforcement”

For the past few weeks at GJEL blog, we’ve been focusing on distracted driving bans limping through state legislatures across the country. The movement is also picking up steam on the national level. The Department of Transportation have launched trial programs in New York and Connecticut to boost regulation, and congressional Democrats have promised to address a federal distracted driving law this year. But here in California, the debate is really heating up. Earlier this month, the state’s transportation and housing committee approved a bill sponsored by Palo Alto Democrat Joe Simitian which would increase distracted driving fines for drivers, and add new penalties for cyclists. Speaking to GJEL Blog, Sen. Simitian discussed the real-world dangers of distracted driving, opposition from cell phone companies, and his bill’s potential to save more than 700 people per year in California alone.

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Apr 16 by Andy Gillin

Federal Distracted Driving Law Stalled by “States’ Rights”

Toyota recalls aside, the debate on distracted driving has been the month’s most compelling consumer issue. Over the past few years, eight states have banned the use of cell phone handsets while driving, and the dangers of such actions have been well documented in the main stream media. This Tuesday’s Pulitzer Prize announcements, for example, honored two New York Times articles exposing the serious risks of texting, typing, and talking in the car. On his blog, Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood applauded these articles in addition to television shows like Modern Family, The Office, and Glee, which have all promoted themes against distracted driving, the number one killer of teenagers.

Though this publicity helps Lahood’s goal to eradicate distracted driving, nationwide legislation against the practice continues to stall in congress.

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