Fighting Driving and Dialing in D.C.
By Richard Doege
Last week, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood hosted the Distracted Driving Summit, where it was noted that 80 percent of all automobile accidents are related to driver inattention. And among all of the possible driving distractions, the use of cellphones was identified as the No. 1 source.
In July 2004, the District was one of the first places to ban motorists from operating hand-held cellphones while driving, but the practice seems rampant today. I see drivers phoning and texting at pedestrian crossings, in front of schools and on highways. The greatest hazard is texting, which according to a study of commercial drivers by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the Center for Truck and Bus Safety increases the risk of an accident by a factor of 23.2.
The District should get back in the lead by stepping up enforcement.
Schools must reach students, who are the youngest and least experienced drivers, and, not coincidentally, are among the worst offenders. Parents should give their car keys to their children only on the condition that their cellphones be turned off while they are driving. Employers must prohibit their workers from using cellphones while driving for business.
With children and pedestrians at great risk, traffic safety is a political no-brainer. Mayor Adrian Fenty should launch a campaign: Don’t Dial and Drive in D.C.
| October 7, 2009; 12:12 PM ET
Tags: accidents, cellphones, driving
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