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US DOT kicks off Distracted Driving Summit: Tune in live

Posted by on September 30th, 2009 at 8:54 am

As promised back in August, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood kicked off the Distracted Driving Summit this morning in Washington D.C.

The event, which a DOT press release says is, “Leading the call for a cultural shift in how Americans view safe driving” is being webcast live from the DOT website today and tomorrow.

The focus on of the summit will be on the use of mobile devices and texting while driving. Back in July, the NY Times published a series of articles made possible by a whistle-blower from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration who admitted that the agency withheld warnings about the dangers of distracted driving for political reasons.

The Distracted Driving Summit is being hosted by the federal Research and Innovative Technology Administration, an agency that recently selected former Portland State University professor Rob Bertini to be its Deputy Administrator.

Another Oregon connection to the summit is State Senator Bruce Starr. Interestingly, Starr voted against a bill (HB 2377) that narrowly passed last session which prohibits the use of mobile devices (with exceptions) while driving. Starr is on a panel tomorrow morning titled: Legislation, Regulation and Enforcement of Distracted Driving. (See full summit agenda here)

The DOT has taken some very admirable steps in harnessing the web to enable folks to get involved with this event. There are live chats, webcasts, and even opportunities to ask questions of panelists via your computer. Learn more about how to participate on the event website.

The DOT also posted this distracted driving PSA from Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission:

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  • Grimm September 30, 2009 at 11:55 am

    I’m glad this is being taken seriously, and hopefully some good education and enforcement will be put in to place. The laws need to keep up with the advancing technology.

    Also I found this VERY graphic European don’t text and drive PSA. Its gruesome yet truthful to the aftermath of not paying attention. Probably NSFW.

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  • Eric September 30, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    I agree that a cultural shift is long overdue. People need to realize that a car is potentially a very hazardous thing. It seems that up to now the culturally acceptable level of care expected of someone driving is way too low. Run over someone while changing the radio station? Many people would think that’s unfortunate, but, well, that kind of thing can happen to anyone. Imagine if someone were at a firing range and “accidentally” shot someone because they were messing with their Ipod while taking target practice. I think everyone would clearly think that person was acting negligently. I don’t think it would be unreasonable to hold drivers to a similar standard.

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  • rex September 30, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    The car/gun analogy is a good one. A car is at least as dangerous as a gun.

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  • bikesalot September 30, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    There is an increasing issue that I feel strongly relates to this. I am observing a significant increase in roadside establishments employing young folks to wave signs at drivers in an effort to increase business. On the west side, Mattress World is one of the worst offenders, and Round Table Pizza is trying hard for second place. I personally make it a policy to boycott all such businesses.

    On a tour this summer, I did not notice this at all in British Columbia – do they have rules against it, or is it a cultural difference? I have been suspecting this is a real world manifestation of the Web, where many sites are now essentially useless due to the abundance of flashing and moving brightly colored ads. Sadly, I cannot implement an ad blocker on the streets where I ride as I do in my browser.

    Do others feel that the waving signs distract drivers from important things like noticing bicycles and pedestrians along the roadway?

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  • Anonymous September 30, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    I’m driving… Does someone have a link that works in iPhone? 🙂

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  • Zaphod September 30, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    I witness texting/dialing all the time. It means that we cyclists need to be extra vigilant. Be careful out there.

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  • Opus the Poet October 2, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Actually a car is much more deadly than a gun. Working from CDC and FBI statistics in a firefight you have a 1:222 chance of getting killed every time someone pulls a trigger (assuming you are not the one doing the shooting). On the other hand according to the NHTSA if you get hit by a car doing 20 MPH as a cyclist or pedestrian you have a 1:20 chance of being killed. Should the car be doing 30 MPH you have a 1:2 chance, 40 MPH 6:7, 50 MPH 19:20, and at 60 MPH the odds are such that it’s 999:1000. At the speed I was hit, well I just don’t wanna talk about it, the numbers are too big.

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