Fewer Chicago bus accidents and trucking accidents should result from distracted driving as a result of a federal ban against text messaging that is now in place nationwide, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced at the nation’s second annual Distracted Driving Summit in Washinton, D.C.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood also announced the law is being extended to train operators and those in-state truckers engaged in hauling hazardous materials.
Additionally, employer-backed anti-distracted-driving campaigns will enroll another 1.5 million motorists in the workplace within the next year. And a pilot program in Connecticut and New York — called “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other” — has been proven to increase compliance in much the same way as seat belt campaigns like “Click it or Ticket it.”
All of the measures are part of an aggressive push by the federal government to combat the dangers of text messaging and other forms of distracted driving. As our Chicago accident lawyers continue to report, recent statistics suggest about 5,500 motorists were killed and 500,000 were injured last year in accidents caused by distracted driving. Only speeding and drunk driving were responsible for more carnage on the road.
“We are taking action on a number of fronts to address the epidemic of distracted driving in America,” said LaHood. “With the help of the experts, policymakers, and safety advocates we’ve assembled here, we are going to do everything we can to put an end to distracted driving and save lives.”
The laws aimed at truckers, bus drivers and train operators are important because they create a uniform standard. Part of the concern over laws governing text messaging and cell phone use by drivers is that they create a confusing patchwork of legislation from state to state and even city to city.
Meanwhile, the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety, an entity created by the government to work with private sector businesses, announced that nearly 1,600 U.S. businesses have instituted distracted driving policies covering 10.5 million workers with another 550 organizations adopting plans that will cover an additional 1.5 million workers in the next year.
“I am thrilled that businesses across the country are making anti-distracted driving policies an integral part of their employee culture,” said Secretary LaHood. “President Obama led by example last year by banning four million federal workers from texting behind the wheel. Employers across America are doing the same to help us set an example and keep our roads safe.”
The “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other,” campaign also proved that the combination of law enforcement efforts and public service announcements improved compliance with local cell phone ordinances in Hartford and Syracuse. Each municipality issued about 5,000 tickets during a two-week enforcement blitz. Subsequent observation reported a decline in cell phone use and text messaging of between 38 and 68 percent.
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