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.

Read More
Jul 08 by Andy Gillin

Confusing Distracted Driving Report Blurs Safety Evidence

Acting on accident reports showing that talking and texting while driving is dangerous, nine states nationwide have banned all hand held cell phone use, and 34 have banned texting while driving. Of course, these new laws have ignited the debate about distracted driving, leaving stalwarts of the insurance industry questioning whether distracted driving truly does make roads more dangerous. The newest report denying the link between distracted driving and car accidents, sponsored by the Governors Highway Safety Association and State Farm Insurance, says there’s no evidence to prove that cell phone bans reduce accidents, and adds some confusing details.

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
May 03 by Andy Gillin

National Bike Month Focuses on Reducing Youth Bicycle Accidents

As National Bike Month rolls around, we’re reminded that too many cyclists currently on the road maintain bad habits on city streets. Many adult cyclists don’t wear helmets, obey traffic signs, or use reflective gear at night. Some states have bicycle safety laws that require appropriate bicycle safety behavior for children and teenagers. But as Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood writes on his blog this week, National Bike Month should encourage smart bicycle safety from the top down. If you have children, be a good “Roll Model” during May as National Bike Month.

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
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.”

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
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?

Read More
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.”

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
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.”

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
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.”

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
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.”

Read More
Aug 18 by Andy Gillin

NHTSA to Require Seat Belts on Commercial Passenger Busses

“Click it or Ticket,” is the threat that has prompted thousands more Americans to buckle up since the punitive campaign launched two years ago. Since more than 15,000 people not wearing seat belts are killed each year, it’s considered irresponsible not to strap in while zooming along the highway. But when it comes to large commercial vehicles, seat belts are considered less essential. This week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a campaign that could save dozens of lives each year by requiring commercial bus passengers to ‘click it’ as well.

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More