The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a new strategic plan to address the issue of distracted driving on U.S. roadways. The plan provides an outline for different groups, including lawmakers and safety organizations, to follow in order to reduce the risk distracted driving presents.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood presented the “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving,” which details the elements of the outline. He also announced $2.4 million in federal funds to support distracted driving prevention efforts in California and Delaware. The money will go to expand the “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other” pilot enforcement campaign in both states.
The “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving” encourages the remaining 11 states without distracted driving laws to enact and enforce this type of legislation. It also asks the auto industry to adopt new guidelines for technology to reduce the potential for distraction on devices built into, or brought into, vehicles. The program provides information to driver education professionals about incorporating new curriculum materials that educate novice drivers about distracted driving.
The federal dollars for California will fund a program in the Sacramento valley region (which consists of eight counties and 3.8 million residents). The Delaware program will be conducted across that state. Each program will examine whether increased police enforcement and paid media and news media coverage can significantly reduce distracted driving over a large area. NHTSA said it expects both projects to be under way in fall 2012.
NHTSA said that nationwide, 39 states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam have banned texting while driving. Out of that number, 10 states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam prohibit all hand-held cell phone use while driving.