Obama’s Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today that he’ll hold a summit in September to “address the dangers of text-messaging and other distractions behind the wheel.”
The summit is slated for late September in Washington D.C. and, according to a US DOT press release it will include senior transportation officials, elected officials, safety advocates, law enforcement representatives and academics.
In a statement about the summit, LaHood said, “If it were up to me, I would ban drivers from texting, but unfortunately, laws aren’t always enough.”
“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.”
Citing several deadly “accidents” (he should stop calling them accidents if he really wants to combat the problem) in the past year that have brought attention to the issue, LaHood said, “The bottom line is, distracted driving is dangerous driving.”
After the summit, LaHood will announce a list of “concrete steps” he and his office plan to take in order to “make drivers think twice about taking their eyes off the road for any reason.”
He didn’t mention it in the formal announcement of the summit, but LaHood’s tough words for texting while driving and distracted driving in general almost certainly have something to do with extensive reporting on the subject of late by the New York Times. Last month, the paper got a former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to confirm that the federal agency had withheld warnings about the dangers of distracted driving for political reasons.