The use of cell phones while driving seemed like a great idea as the popularity of cell phones increased. After all, the whole point of having a cell phone was to enable one to make calls from wherever once went. One of the great benefits was being able to call while on the road. Unfortunately, as cell phone use grew, so did accidents related to cell phone use. Calling while using a hand held device is distracting to the driver whose focus needs to be on traffic around him and the road ahead. Texting, which is even more dangerous than driving while talking on a hand held device, has become a national past time if not an outright addiction. The use of mobile hand held devices has had some dangerous consequences. We now know that the use of mobile communications while driving is linked to a significant increase in distracted driving, resulting in injury and loss of life. To stem this problem, the FCC is working with industry, safety organizations and other government agencies to inform and educate the public about the dangers of distracted driving. The FCC is also seeking to identify and facilitate the development of innovative technologies that could reduce the incidence of distracted driving.
A recent article in the Long Island Newsday reported that texting while driving has now exceeded driving under the influence as the number one cause of deaths among teens. The number of accidents involving drinking by teens has decreased dramatically in the last two decades thanks to an intensive education campaign launched by the National Transportation Safety Administration in partnership with MAAD. It appears that a similar educational effort needs to be made regarding the hazards of driving while texting or using a hand held cell phone while driving.
Consumer Education and Outreach
The White House issued an executive order on October 1, 2009 stating that the Federal Government should demonstrate leadership in reducing the dangers of texting and driving and that all Federal Employees shall not engage in text messaging when driving a government vehicle or when driving while on official government business. Additionally it asks that all agencies of the Executive Branch reevaluate and consider new rules and programs to prohibit text messaging while driving and raise awareness for Federal Employees about the safety risks associated with texting while driving.
Distraction.gov is the official U.S. Government site for distracted driving. In 2009, Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood launched a national anti-distracted driving campaign to combat the growing trend of dangerous distracted driving behavior in America. To help further raise awareness, the U.S. DOT also launched Distraction.gov, a dedicated website that provides the public with a comprehensive source of information on distracted driving.
The FCC's online clearinghouse provides links to information about firms and organizations providing technology approaches intended to reduce the dangers of distracted driving, working to dissuade people from texting while driving, and reducing risks posed by distracted driving.