WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation and Better Business Bureau will collaborate to educate consumers and businesses about the dangers of distracted driving.
The USDOT and Better Business Bureau are calling on businesses across the country to adopt distracted driving policies as part of their employee culture. A strong distracted driving policy helps companies save lives, reduce time lost from work due to accidents and injuries, reduce insurance premiums, and save money.
“Distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on America’s roads,” Secretary LaHood said. “We know that educating people about the risk of distracted driving works, and we are pleased to be working with BBB to raise awareness and help businesses and consumers fight this problem.”
“BBB is very pleased to help the USDOT spread the word about the dangers of distracted driving,” said Stephen A. Cox, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “Raising awareness about the dangers of multi-tasking while driving is vital. We are pleased to help promote this good work of the USDOT.”
Better Business Bureau Efforts
The national website of the Better Business Bureau will feature a link to a free tool kit that provides employers with suggested distracted driving policies to help keep their employees safe. The kit, created by the USDOT and the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), contains materials such as a sample company policy, a sample memo to employees on that policy, and a sample company press release.
In addition, Better Business Bureau’s national website will feature videos from USDOT’s “Faces of Distracted Driving” video series. The videos include heartbreaking stories from family members who have lost loved ones due to distracted driving accidents. Better Business Bureau will also provide a link to www.distraction.gov, a complete resource on everything having to do with distracted driving.
Nearly 5,500 people in the U.S. were killed and almost half a million were injured in accidents related to distracted driving in 2009. Eighteen percent of those fatal accidents involved the use of a cell phone.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s campaign against distracted driving is a multi-modal effort that includes automobiles, trains, planes, and commercial vehicles.
On September 30, 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing federal employees not to engage in text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles; when using electronic equipment supplied by the government while driving; or while driving privately owned vehicles when they’re on official government business. The order also encourages federal contractors and others doing business with the government to adopt and enforce their own policies banning texting while driving on the job.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) banned commercial truck and bus drivers from texting while driving in September 2010, and proposed a ban on the use of cell phones by commercial drivers in December 2010. In September 2010, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) proposed a ban on the use of electronic devices by drivers operating a motor vehicle containing hazardous materials, in conjunction with the proposed FMCSA ban.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) banned rail employees from using cell phones or other electronic devices on the job following a September 2008 Metrolink crash in Chatsworth, California that killed 25 people.
After a Northwest flight crew distracted by a laptop overshot their destination by 150 miles, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advised air carriers to create and enforce policies that limit distractions in the cockpit and keep pilots focused on transporting passengers safely.