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Distracted driving “blueprint” will prevent tragedies

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Distracted driving “blueprint” will help curb problem, prevent tragedies

WASHINGTON – Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, today praised a national initiative unveiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to curb distracted driving.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood released a “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving” to address the dangers of using handheld phones while driving and other related problems. The plan urges the 11 remaining states without distracted-driving laws to pass them, calls on automakers to develop technology to reduce distractions from devices built or brought into cars, and partners with driver-education programs to include distracted driving in curriculum materials.
In a recent Consumer Reports survey, 8 in 10 young drivers said texting while driving was dangerous, but 29 percent of them admitted to doing it. When young drivers were asked why they had reduced or stopped distracted driving, 61 percent said it was because they had heard about the dangers of it.
Ellen Bloom, Director of Federal Policy and the Washington Office of Consumers Union, said, “Too many drivers are paying more attention to their phones than the road. Distracted driving has led to thousands of deaths, and hundreds of thousands of injuries. We’ve learned that the number-one way to convince young drivers to stop texting behind the wheel is to educate them on just how deadly the risks are, and that’s a big part of this blueprint by the Transportation Department. It’s a great initiative that will help save lives.”
Bloom added, “It’s time for the states that have been lagging behind on distracted driving to step up, and I think this blueprint is going to help convince more states to get with the program. All it takes is a brief moment of distraction to lead to tragedy, and this plan can really make a difference.”
In 2010, at least 3,092 people were killed in distraction-affected crashes – accounting for approximately one in every ten fatalities on the nation’s roadways, according to DOT.
Additional findings from the Consumer Reports survey of 16- to 21-year-olds include:
• 84 percent saw other young people talking on a handheld phone while driving
• 71 percent saw a peer texting while behind the wheel
• 48 percent witnessed their mom or dad talking on a handheld phone while driving
• 15 percent witnessed their mom or dad texting while behind the wheel
• 8 percent operated smart phone apps while driving in the last 30 days
• 7 percent used e-mail or social media while behind the wheel in the last 30 days
The Consumer Reports questionnaire was fielded online by Knowledge Networks from November 23, 2011 to December 13, 2011. Knowledge Networks selects households for its panels using address based sampling methods. Analyses were conducted with the sample weighted to reflect national demographics. A total of 1,049 surveys were completed by adults aged 16 to 21 years. Knowledge Networks received parental or legal guardian consent for all panelists aged 17 or younger. The margin of error is +/- 3.03 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

Media contact: David Butler or Kara Kelber, 202-462-6262