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U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Launches “Faces of Distracted Driving” Online Awareness Campaign

Families affected by distracted driving share their stories in new web video series

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today launched “Faces of Distracted Driving,” an online video series exploring the tragic consequences of texting and cell phone use while driving.  The series features people from across the country who have been injured or lost loved ones in distracted driving crashes.  In 2009, nearly 5,500 people died and half a million were injured in accidents involving a distracted driver.

“These videos are dramatic evidence that the lives lost to America’s distracted driving epidemic aren’t statistics.  They’re children, parents, neighbors, and friends,” said Secretary LaHood.  “These people have courageously come forward to share their personal tragedies in order to warn others against making the dangerous decision to talk or text behind the wheel.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation is encouraging others who would like to share their experiences with distracted driving to post videos on YouTube and email the links to:

“Faces of Distracted Driving” is part of Secretary LaHood’s effort to raise public awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and to support victims.  In January, Secretary LaHood joined anti-distracted driving advocate Jennifer Smith to announce the creation of FocusDriven, the first national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending distracted driving.

“Distracted driving can have dangerous and life-altering consequences,” said FocusDriven President Jennifer Smith.  “These videos will hopefully help change behaviors behind the wheel and keep our roads safe for everyone.”

“Faces of Distracted Driving” launches today with three videos:

Elissa Schee’s 13-year-old daughter Margay was killed in 2008 when a semi-truck crashed into the back of her school bus in Citra, Florida.  The truck driver was talking on his cell phone at the time of the crash and said he never saw the bus.  Schee is a founding board member of FocusDriven.

Laurie Hevier’s 58-year-old mother Julie was killed when a distracted driver struck her as she walked beside a road in Rudolph, Wisconsin.  Crash reconstruction reports showed the driver could not have been looking at the road for 8.75 seconds.  Hevier is now an advocate against distracted driving.

Amos Johnson’s 16-year-old daughter Ashley was killed when she lost control of her vehicle, crossed the center line, and hit a pickup truck in Asheville, North Carolina.  She was texting at the time of the crash.  Johnson now speaks to local teens about the dangers of distracted driving.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s campaign against distracted driving is a multi-modal effort that includes automobiles, trains, planes, and commercial vehicles.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently issued a rule prohibiting railroad employees from using personal cell phones and other electronic devices on the job, in response to a September 2008 Metrolink crash that killed 25 people in Chatsworth, California.

After a Northwest flight crew distracted by laptop computer usage 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.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a regulation banning text messaging while operating a commercial motor vehicle in September 2010.  A rulemaking proposed by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) in September 2010 would expand the texting ban to certain drivers carrying hazardous materials that are not covered by the FMCSA regulation.

Updated: Monday, February 9, 2015
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