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

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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 19 by Andy Gillin

Call to End Distracted Driving Goes Global

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.” Get involved on Facebook, Twitter, and webcast!

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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 26 by Andy Gillin

Parents: Test Your Teenager on a Distracted Driving Simulator

Generally, I’m not a fan of efforts to reduce distracted driving among teens by scaring the crap out of them. There are all sorts of stats that clearly portray the dangers of distracted driving: last year, it was responsible for nearly 600,000 deaths; it is the number one killer of teenagers; and it’s just as dangerous as driving while drunk. But if teens today are a fraction as stubborn as I was as a teenager, listing statistics to kids won’t have a lasting effect. Instead, consider testing a distracted driving simulator on your teenager and let him or her be the judge.

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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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Apr 09 by Andy Gillin

Department of Transportation Jump Starts Anti-Distracted Driving Program

We wrote yesterday about the proposed hands free phone law currently languishing in congress. A set of key democrats think the law would drastically reduce vehicular deaths, but the bill stalled thanks to confusion about its nationwide implementation. Meanwhile, the US Department of Transportation gave these senators a helping hand Thursday by jump starting distracted driving prevention test programs in New York and Connecticut.

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