• Dec 30th 2009 at 8:29AM
  • 16
Distracted driving is becoming a very real concern in the age of texting, cell phones, touch screen navigation and fast food. So what is a government to do to stop the madness? New laws? More police enforcement? Maybe at some point, but for now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has created a new website called distraction.gov. The site provides facts and figures that shows how distracted driving affects your ability to drive safely while also working as a news feed for new distracted driving legislation.

You may have heard that driving while texting makes you 23 times more likely to get into an accident, but the NHTSA site gives more alarming stats. For example, the site claims that driving while talking on the phone makes you as much of a hazard as someone driving while over the legal drinking limit. The site also claims that 6,000 people died in distracted driving accidents in 2008 and that drivers using hand held devices in the car are four times as likely to seriously injure themselves in an accident. Even more disturbing is the fact that the NHTSA found distracted driving fatalities went from 8% in 2004 to 11% in 2008.

Head over to distraction.gov for more interesting info, but try not to pull up the site on your mobile while you're on the road. And try not to get distracted by Ray LaHood's eyebrows when you click.

[Source: Distraction.gov | Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      "So what is a government to do to stop the madness? New laws? More police enforcement?"

      I'm sure there will be laws, but it will end up going back down to the states for enforcement unless they want to miss out on highway funding, similar to the way the drinking age was raised to 21.

      In Indiana, it wouldn't matter much, as a high percentage of drivers either have no license, no insurance, or are lacking both. The laws to penalize these people are weak, so there is no incentive to get legal on either account. Until states stop using traffic fines for fee income and start enforcing laws for public safety, we'll never see a crackdown on severely deficient drivers, just cherry pickers going after speeders here and there.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Solve the immigration problem and you'd do a lot to solve the driving issues.

        Or feed the homeless the hungry.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "- light traffic, you stop in right hand lane on red even though you are going straight forcing all people behind you wait for green to turn right"

      Agreed; this one drives me nuts, and I try my hardest to avoid Being That Guy myself. But I don't think you can legislate courtesy or common sense, so there's only one answer: Require all controlled intersections to have dedicated right-turn lanes. Not sure where the money will come from, but it seems like the only way to go.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Texting while driving is a major problem with teenagers. We don't think about the people who care for us and pray for our safety. Next time when you feel like texting while driving just think about them and if you still feel like texting, I strongly recommend use of application like http://www.drivesafe.ly/ , it reads your emails and messages to you while you are driving.
      • 5 Years Ago
      After yesterday's story about the "dangers" of going 3.11 mph over the arbitrary legal limit in Oz, this is a breath of fresh air. Thank god the US gov is going for the big stuff, instead of tinkering at the edges.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This website is good. Information about keeping you safe most required in these holidays. BTW I use http://www.drivesafe.ly/ which reads sms and emails to me while i am driving and keeps me focused on road.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Too much is made of comparing driving while on the phone or texting to driving drunk. While the former is a real problem, texting or talking drivers can put down the phone and be back to full alert. Drunk drivers can't stop being drunk.
        • 5 Years Ago
        wrong. not enough is being done to stop cell phone use while driving, period. nada, no, don't do it, no hands free sh!t, just stop yapping and drive. Quit yapping to the moron sitting next to you too.

        Bring back public flogging for DUI.

        Quit driving when you're 80.

        Everyone has to take a mandatory behind the wheel driving test every 5 years starting at 60.
        With a doctor's certification that you don't have epilepsy (controlled my a$$), diabetes (controlled, my a$$...how many hypoglycemic incidents cause accidents!!), or other medical issues that in fact do cause accidents and deaths.

        Consider driving an issue similar to flying....just pay attention, fools!!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Note I did not say it wasn't a problem, I simply said it wasn't equal to driving drunk. Both problems, but not equal problems. One is a temporary distraction, the other is persistent diability. One can be eliminated immediately at the discretion of the driver, the other takes time to wear off. Both are stupid and irresponsible.

        As far as "just stop yapping and drive", really? I'm sure that you talk to no one, not even the moron who just cut you off or drove by with his phone on his ear? And you scan the horizon constantly, check your mirrors regularly, signal at every lane change, count one-one-thousand to determine the best following distance, keep your hands at 2 and 10 and keep the radio off at all times so you are at the optimal alertness, right? Sure, give me a break. There are appropriate ways to use some electronics while driving. Texting? No, but limited phone calls or use of GPS certainly.
      • 5 Years Ago
      More automation, less visual and more audio oriented info. are good ideas. Just giving up on getting folks to pay more attention isn't an option. Although I doubt this affects traffic as much as an accident, I'm sure it's a main source of causing many of them, which in turn affects traffic. So I guess in a round-about way this is true.

      I see so many people on a daily basis in a "me, myself and I" mode. We're all guilty of it to some extent but some folks are unreal. I've seen reading, working on the computer, sticking their foot out the window, almost getting out of their seat to get something in the back, etc. There are many things that are a far cry from looking at the GPS or talking on the cell phone. This is the primary reason we may never see an autobahn or similar system.

      A long term solution to some of this could be a high speed rail (wouldn't even have to be high speed at first) system with a piggy-back set-up very much like Switzerland uses, only updated a little for faster loading and unloading. Then you can sit in a lounge and text all you want, not to mention the incredible amounts of fuel that could be saved as well.

      I remember once, years ago, I came upon road construction that narrowed the street to one lane. Everyone, ahead and behind me (including myself) let one car in and traffic flowed almost as if their was no construction at all. It was a beautiful thing that I unfortunately have never experienced since.

      • 5 Years Ago
      I wish cops would go warning distracted drivers. How do you know they are distracted? They are inevitably in "me, myself and I" mode totally oblivious that there are other humans around them. Few examples:

      - light traffic, you stop in right hand lane on red even though you are going straight forcing all people behind you wait for green to turn right
      - congested traffic, you are going straight and start breaking and rolling 1/2 mile before the light forcing left turners to lose their green arrow for left while you get to roll on your green
      - congested traffic and you insist on turning left blocking everybody else in that lane/road
      - congested traffic and you stop on the road to check map/read signs/confer with passenger ... totally unaware of chaos behind you
      - rush hour, light changes to green and it takes you 5 seconds to realize that and then it takes you 1/2 mile to reach 35 mph - leaving, in process, 2-3 cars behind to wait for next green
      - you drive on two-lane road well below speed limit (for whatever reason) for miles and have at least dozen vehicles behind you yet you refuse to pull over and let them go past you
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