Preventing Deadly Distracted Driving
The Honorable Anthony Foxx, U.S. Secretary of Transportation

Summary

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver each year. According to the National Occupant Protection Use Survey, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving at a typical daylight moment in the U.S. Many distracted drivers are young — 10% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash, according to Distraction.gov. Drivers in their 20s comprise more than one-quarter of distracted drivers in fatal crashes. In honor of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, The Honorable Anthony Foxx, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, and Jay Winsten, Frank Stanton Director of the Center for Health Communication at Harvard School of Public Health and Associate Dean for Health Communication, explored how to keep Americans safer on the road through approaches such as education campaigns, smart technology, and law enactment and enforcement.

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Presented in Collaboration with The Huffington Post

Background Articles

Image Credit: Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Transportation

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM ONLINE CHAT

    How about ‘risk factor’ for injury and harm? Behavioral syndrome’?

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM ONLINE CHAT

    How could we ‘drive defensively’ if we’re texting or using a phone?

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM ONLINE CHAT

    Could meditation or CBT/DBT help with cultivating a population with better ‘attention spans’?

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM ONLINE CHAT

    Are any car manufacturers/insurers offering a locking technology for a drivers phone?

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM ONLINE CHAT

    Any thoughts of enlisting places like McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants, where young people stand in line every day, as a place to show Distraction.gov’s PSA’s. It would take a business like McDonald’s to embrace the cause, and do something about it.

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM ONLINE CHAT

    Can the DOT (or state DOTs) implement more signage and rest-stops/pulloffs for “Texting breaks”. My home state of New York has strong regulations about talking/texting while driving, and you see people pull over on the Thruway to talk/text. Why haven’t other states implemented this?

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM ONLINE CHAT

    How deep is the ‘body of knowledge’ on distracted driving or distracted operating of complicated equipment?

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM TWITTER

    Q: Is there a window for Congress to pass laws against texting & driving? #distracteddriving

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM TWITTER

    Q: Data shows handsfree phone use just as dangerous as handheld. Wrong message not to ban it?

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM TWITTER

    Q: So does this administration have the courage to ban touchscreens in automobiles?

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM TWITTER

    Q: You can’t keep a cell phone out of a car but you can keep a touchscreen out.

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM TWITTER

    Q: What is role of parents/adults to model good behavior around #DistractedDriving?

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM TWITTER

    Q: Can we draw parallels btwn driving under the influence of alcohol and #distracteddriving?

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM TWITTER

    Q: What is the biggest policy challenge in tackling #distracteddriving?

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    The discussions around distracted driving seems to focus on cellphone usage as the main cause of distracted driving, but what is the impact of in-car consoles, radios, or even conversations with passengers?

    Could the new backup camera requirement encourage added electronic distractions in cars?

    Thank you,

    Joey N

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    I would like to see a show of hands of how many people in the audience used their cell phone while driving to this forum – and be honest!!!

    ~ Matthew C

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    I work as a paramedic, a position that I have held for the past 35 years.

    I am curious about the increasingly popular practice of some Emergency Medical Services providers (specifically, some ambulance crews/personnel) – – when responding to an emergency call, or enroute to the hospital (with a patient in the patient compartment of the ambulance), of playing the AM/FM/Satellite Radio in the front of the ambulance (the cockpit, so to speak) , while driving. In many cases, there could be one or more two-way radios emitting voice radio traffic at the same time. I won’t complicate my question by making reference to the additionally emerging practice of (the driver) reading a smart phone or texting at the same time. Does this (the AM/FM/Satellite Radio playing) constitute a “distraction” to driving, and potentially represent an unsafe driving practice?

    Specifically, I wonder, would you consider having an AM/FM/Satellite radio playing at a conversational level, as contributory to “distracted driving” while (1) responding with lights and sirens to an emergency call, or (2) while transporting a patient to the hospital (with or without lights and sirens)? I should point out that during the latter, the transport phase, there is typically, only one person – – the driver – – in the front of the ambulance? Does it matter if that AM/FM/Satellite Radio is playing music, talk radio, news or sports during that period (e.g. could music possibly be considered “medicinal” or “soothing” during this period…….or distracting)?

    I should add a few things. First, there is a growing trend in health care to adopt “safety practices” from the aviation industry. An example of which, is referred to here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Checklist-Aviation-Teamwork-Politics/dp/0801478294/ref=tmm_pap_title_0/191-0064283-1831014

    Second, in commercial aviation, the cockpit becomes “sterile” during certain high-risk periods, such as take-offs and landings. This period strikes me as analogous to the period when an ambulance is responding to an emergency call or transporting a patient to the hospital.

    Third, Jay; Dr. Winsten, hi! I don’t think I’ve talked with you or seen you in 15-20 years. I hope this email finds you well. About 20 years ago, I was a contributor to the Harvard (HSPH) Injury Control Center, and collaborated with John Graham, PhD, David Hemenway, PhD, Nancy Isaac, ScD, Ilana Lescohier, PhD, Lucian Leape, MD, and Bruce Kennedy, EdD. That was a time that HSPH had a keen interest in injury control, and we were attempting to bring injury control and public health practices to emergency medical services.

    Many thanks.

    William

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    1. Could insurance companies be helpful partners to state and local efforts to address distracted driving? If so, can you provide any examples of such partnerships?

    2. When reviewing safety technologies to address distracted driving, could you please include what is known about the effectiveness of these technologies in practice?

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    Greetings;

    Do bicycles have as much right to the road as automobiles?

    Thank You

    William R. M

  • Kristen

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    If a driver uses a cellphone with a headset while keeping her eyes on the road and both hands on the steering wheel, is this any more dangerous than that driver having an intense conversation with a passenger in the car?

    If so, why?
    Craig D