Secretary Ray LaHood
"Remarks as prepared for delivery"
Distracted Driving Guidelines Conference Call
April 23, 2013
Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for joining us today.
Here at DOT, we’ve been on a crusade against distracted driving for the last four years.
Distracted driving is unsafe, irresponsible, and can have devastating consequences.
Every single time a driver takes his or her focus off the road, they put their lives – and the lives of others – in danger.
In 2011 alone, over 3,000 people were killed in crashes where distracted driving was a factor – and an additional 387,000 were injured.
Through a combination of good laws, tough enforcement, and increased public awareness, we’ve already made significant progress in getting cell phones out of people’s hands when they’re behind the wheel.
But as technology evolves, the data shows that cell phones aren’t the only potential distractions in vehicles.
Many carmakers are now developing in-vehicle electronics systems that can post to social networking sites, text message, search the internet, and give directions.
Now, there’s no doubt that drivers appreciate these technologies.
But we’ve got an obligation to balance the innovation consumers want with the safety we all need.
So today, the Department of Transportation is issuing voluntary guidelines for in-vehicle electronics systems.
The guidelines – which were first proposed last year and now include feedback from stakeholders across the country – include recommendations to limit the time drivers may take their eyes off the road to operate in-dash or in-car technology.
They also recommend that features like texting, internet browsing, and video watching be disabled unless a vehicle is stopped and in park.
Look, these are common sense guidelines.
And they’re guidelines backed up by NHTSA’s research and analysis.
A new naturalistic driving study NHTSA is releasing today shows that visual and manual tasks behind the wheel triple the risk of getting into a crash.
The bottom line is this: We don’t have to choose between providing consumers with the technology they want and keeping folks safe.
We can – and must – do both.
That’s what the American people want, and that’s what these guidelines set out to do.
And I hope the automakers will join us in embracing these real-world solutions to America’s distracted driving epidemic.
With that, let me turn the line over to NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, who will share more details on the guidelines and our latest study.