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Oprah fights distracted driving

Oprah Winfrey is wading into the fight against distracted driving.

Oprah and her Harpo Studios are launching a new campaign with transportation safety organizations for "No Phone Zone Day," which will be held Friday, April 30. A press release said the event is intended "to honor victims of distracted driving" and "to educate ... Americans to end the deadly driving habits that kill nearly 6,000 [people] a year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)." The announcement came Tuesday on Oprah's show.

"A call or text isn't worth taking a life," said Winfrey. "We must not allow more mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, sisters and brothers to die before we take action against distracted driving."

"The Oprah Winfrey Show" on April 30 will be a live episode on ending distracted driving, the press release said, and a rally is scheduled to take place in the District, along with rallies in other cities, such as Atlanta, Boston, Detroit and Los Angeles.

A recent local Post poll reported that area adults often see distracted driving. Sixteen percent of those surveyed even said they regularly don't pay enough attention behind the wheel.

Almost everyone in the poll reported seeing area drivers frequently clutching cellphones, and nearly three-quarters regularly observe drivers typing on mobile devices.

Ending distracted driving has become a primary effort for Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who is part of the coalition working with Winfrey on No Phone Zone Day.

"I've made it my mission at the DOT to end distracted driving," LaHood said in a statement. "We know that if we can get people to put away cell phones and other electronic devices when they are behind the wheel, we can save thousands of lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of injuries every year."

Viewers and participants in a town hall will be asked to pledge to not use phones while driving. "Oprah Winfrey" representatives said 160,000 people at Oprah.com have signed the pledge as of Tuesday afternoon.

Along with the Department of Transportation and "The Oprah Winfrey Show," other organizations participating include WJLA in Washington, the Governors Highway Safety Association, NHTSA and others.

By Michael Bolden  |  April 6, 2010; 4:42 PM ET
 
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