The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calculates that in 2008, about 6,000 people were killed and more than half a million were injured as a result of accidents caused by a distracted driving. Screaming children sitting in the back seat, a pet who gains the attention of the driver, talking on a mobile phone, texting and more can distract a driver when he or she should be concentrating on the road.
Federal and state governments, as well as concerned citizens, have tried to do something to relieve the problem of distracted drivers. One such effort is the U.S. Department of Transportation's Distracted Driving Summit. This years gathering is scheduled for Tuesday, September 21, at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C. This is the second summit held by the Department. The first took place last year.
The result of the first summit was an Executive Order from President Barack Obama to ban all text messaging by the four million employees of the federal government who drive government owned vehicles or their own vehicles on official government business. The ban includes the use of mobile devices provided by the government. Secretary Ray LaHood also starred in a national public service announcement concerning distracted driving and the government created a website dedicated to the issue.
Moreover, since the first summit, state and local governments have tackled the issue and have passed anti-distracted driving legislation, as well as authorizing texting bans for commercial trucks and bus drivers. Victims of accidents with distracted drivers and the Department of Transportation have established a national non-profit advocacy organization called FocusDriven that has started pilot law enforcement programs in Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse, NY.
Experts from around the world will participate in this year's conference to discuss key ways to improve the problem, including research, technology, policy, public outreach and practices in enforcement.
More information, as well as the agenda and the various panels scheduled, can be found at the summit's special website. You will be able to view much of the conference on a live webcast on the site. Questions can be submitted in advance via email to DDSummit@dot.gov. You are advised to write in the subject line of the email to which panel your question is addressed. Finally, conference highlights and user comments will also appear on Twitter using the hashtag #d2summit.