Trucking Group Supports Distracted Driving Summit

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood said Tuesday he will "announce a list of concrete steps we will take to make drivers think twice about taking their eyes off the road for any reason" after next month's summit in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's announcement Tuesday that his department will convene a summit in Washington, D.C., in late September to discuss causes and solutions to distracted driving has been enthusiastically received by the American Trucking Associations, which represents trucking companies nationwide. DOT provides updates on the summit at http://twitter.com/distractdriving and www.rita.dot.gov/distracted_driving_summit/.

"If it were up to me, I would ban drivers from texting, but unfortunately, laws aren't always enough," LaHood said Tuesday. "We've learned from past safety awareness campaigns that it takes a coordinated strategy combining education and enforcement to get results. That's why this meeting with experienced officials, experts, and law enforcement will be such a crucial first step in our efforts to put an end to distracted driving."

ATA plans to participate in the event. "We're pleased to have the support and leadership of Secretary LaHood and the Department of Transportation on this very important issue. Improving driver performance by eliminating distractions, including those caused by text messaging, will greatly improve the safety of all motorists," ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said.

ATA released a safety agenda last October that recommended policies to minimize or eliminate driver distractions caused by using electronic devices while operating any type of motor vehicle. The trade association supports a bill, the Avoiding Life-Endangering and Reckless Texting (ALERT) by Drivers Act of 2009, which was introduced July 29 by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., that would give states two years to ban writing, sending, or reading text messages using a hand-held mobile telephone or other portable electronic communications device while driving a motor vehicle, or the states could lose 25 percent of their annual federal highway funding.

"The bottom line is, distracted driving is dangerous driving," LaHood said. "Following next month's summit, I plan to announce a list of concrete steps we will take to make drivers think twice about taking their eyes off the road for any reason."

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