Trasportation Safety

ASSE Lauds Schwarzenegger's Attempt to Terminate Distracted Driving

In a letter yesterday to Arnold Schwarzenegger, American Society of Safety Engineers' Regional VP Terrie Norris, CSP, ARM, CPSI, of Long Beach, Calif., cheered the California governor's signing last month of legislation banning the use of cell phones by motorists.

"ASSE is very pleased with the passage and signing of legislation banning 16- and 17-year-old drivers from using cell phones, lap top computers and other electronic devices while they are driving," Norris wrote. "Although it does not go into effect until next year and is only a secondary offense, we urge teen drivers to begin now--to not use cell phones, pagers, laptops or anything that can distract them while driving. Not only could they lose their life, but they could cause the death of another person or family due to their distracted driving."

Norris added that ASSE also is pleased with a new California law prohibiting all drivers from using cell phones unless they are hands-free models. This bill goes into effect next year.

"These laws are a step forward in increasing roadway safety and on-the-job safety, [because] for many workers their vehicle is their office, and the number-one cause of on-the-job deaths in the U.S. continues to be traffic crashes," said Norris, who is also the risk control manager for Bickmore Risk Services. "A major concern of the ASSE membership is roadway safety. Of the 5,703 workplace fatalities recorded in the U.S. for 2006, nearly one out of four fatal work injuries were transportation related. A contributing factor to these ongoing traffic fatalities [is] the distracted driver. They may not find themselves in a crash, but they can cause one."

Norris noted that in California alone, of the 448 people who lost their lives due to an on-the-job injury in 2006, 167 were involved in a transportation-related accident, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2006. "Distracted driving is a safety problem," Norris said. "ASSE's position is that operating a vehicle while using a cell phone is one of many potentially unsafe acts drivers do every day and needs to be addressed. We all know an accident can happen in a second."

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