NHTSA launches the “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving” plan

Article by Christian Andrei, on June 8, 2012

The U.S. government is cracking down on distracted driving by launching a plan dubbed the “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving.” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that aside from offering steps to reduce road deaths as the result of drivers who use cell phones or other electronics while they’re behind the wheel, this plan also provides $2.4 million in grants to assist law enforcement agencies in catching distracted drivers.

Since LaHood was appointed as Transportation Secretary in 2009, he has focused plenty of his energy on battling distracted driving. Many accidents have resulted from drivers who are distracted by phone calls, text messages, or other electronic devices. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that in 2010, distracted driving has resulted in 3,092 deaths.

These make up one in ten driver fatalities in the U.S. Furthermore, the agency said that the data imply that 100,000 drivers are sending text messages at any given period. The “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving” also comes with a $2.4 million grant to Delaware and California.

This money will be used to finance programs that are meant to put a stop to drivers who violate the distracted-driving laws of those states. The NHTSA looked at how successful the “Click It Or Ticket” seatbelt campaign is and hopes that by raising funds for the “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other” program, the number of people using phones behind the wheel would be reduced.

The programs will start this fall in the whole state of Delaware as well as in the eight counties in the Sacramento valley of California. Last year, the NHTSA conducted trial enforcement programs in Hartford, Connecticut, and Syracuse, New York. For several months, there were more tickets recorded for drivers who used phones. In Hartford, the number of distracted drivers fell by 72%, while Syracuse experienced a 32% decline.

This suggests that drivers are encouraged to follow state laws when they fear being ticketed and when there’s a wider media coverage of the enforcement efforts. The rest of the “Blueprint” features guidelines to aid in resolving the problem. A part of the proposal would encourage states that don’t have anti-texting laws to add the laws. The safety agency will also make automakers think about driver distraction when designing future vehicles. In early 2012, the NHTSA has released a set of guidelines on in-car technologies. It hopes to build on the guidelines by offering more in-depth guidelines in the future.

Topics: nhtsa

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