In effort to reduce car accidents, federal distracted driving summit planned

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced a distracted driving summit in Washington, D.C. Sept. 30-Oct. 1 in an effort to combat car accidents caused by distracted driving, specifically the use of cell phones and text messaging while behind the wheel.

Earlier this summer the Chicago car accident lawyers at Abels & Annes blogged about Illinois’ leadership role in banning the use of cell phones and text messaging while driving — the state’s new text-messaging ban was one of fewer than 10 tough new distracted-driving laws passed out of more than 170 that were introduced nationwide last year, according to a report by the New York Times.

Illinois’ text-messaging ban (as well as a law banning cell phone use in school zones and road construction sites) became law last month and takes effect Jan. 1. Violators face a fine and repeated violations can lead to license suspension.

The City of Chicago already has a law in place prohibiting drivers from using cell phones.

The federal government estimates more than 4,000 people a day are in an auto accident as a result of distracted driving.

“If it were up to me, I would ban drivers from texting, but unfortunately, laws aren’t always enough,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “We’ve learned from past safety awareness campaigns that it takes a coordinated strategy combining education and enforcement to get results.”

LaHood called the summit a “crucial first step in our efforts to put an end to distracted driving.”

In June, the Chicago personal injury lawyers and wrongful death attorneys at Abels & Annes wrote about distracted driving as part of its Safe Driving Series.

Nationwide, 80 percent of accidents are attributed to distracted driving — more than 1.5 million drivers will get into an accident this year because of driver distraction.

From a California commuter train accident that killed 25 people, to a Florida trucking accident that claimed the life of a former lawmaker’s daughter, high-profile incidents attributed to text messaging continue to make news.

The American Trucking Association has pledged its support for the summit with the hope of reducing truck accidents attributed to distracted driving.

“Improving driver performance by eliminating distractions, including those caused by text messaging, will greatly improve the safety of all motorists,” ATA president Bill Graves said.

The U.S. Department of Transportation promises concrete steps will be taken following the summit.

“The bottom line is, distracted driving is dangerous driving,” LaHood said. “I plan to announce a list of concrete steps we will take to make drivers think twice about taking their eyes off the road for any reason.”

If you or someone you love has been involved in a Chicago car accident or an accident with a Chicago semi or large truck, the Chicago personal injury attorneys and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free consultations to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

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