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Washington Summit Focus: Distracted Drivers, Eyes on the Road

In a recent blog posting, we noted this comment concerning local drivers from a transportation expert working with Maryland's Highway Safety Office: "There's not a week that goes by that I don't see someone doing something incredibly stupid or aggressive."

The validity of that view is certainly buttressed by this sobering statistic: About 5,500 motorists across the United States died in car crashes last year owing to undue attention they were paying to technological devices while driving.

That is an acute and strongly growing concern for government officials, traffic administrators, safety advocates and business leaders, who met together this week in the second upper-level driving conference convened during the Obama administration.

The summit was led by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who evidenced both obvious concern and frustration with the seeming evolution of a vehicle as a moving entertainment center. He targeted automobile manufacturers for in-car technology they consistently add that encourages drivers to interact with non-driving activities. In specifically noting drivers' increased abilities to update their Facebook entries and surf the Internet, he stated that motorists now commonly "do any number of other things instead of driving safely."

Car makers have responded that they are working to develop better voice-activated systems that will free up drivers' hands and eliminate the need to manipulate mobile devices. LaHood is also encouraging tougher laws against texting while driving and an increase in businesses across the country adopting safety policies for their workers who are driving on company business.

Related Resource: www.google.com "Summit calls for reduction in distracted driving" September 21, 2010

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