August 4, 2009 By Wayne Hanson
Driver use of text messaging and electronic devices will be the subject of a September summit in Washington, D.C., called by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Last year, a British study found texting while driving more dangerous than driving drunk, and several recent U.S. rail crashes caused by texting operators -- including 25 deaths in a California train wreck last September -- has focused attention on use of electronic devices while driving.
"The bottom line is, distracted driving is dangerous driving," said LaHood in a statement. "Following next month's summit, 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."
"We're pleased to have the support and leadership of Secretary LaHood and the Department of Transportation on this very important issue," said American Trucking Association President and CEO Bill Graves in a release. "Improving driver performance by eliminating distractions, including those caused by text messaging, will greatly improve the safety of all motorists."
ATA supports the "Avoiding Life-Endangering and Reckless Texting by Drivers Act of 2009." The bill would require all states to ban writing, sending or reading text messages using a hand-held mobile telephone or other portable electronic communication device. States that do not comply with the legislation risk losing 25 percent of their annual federal highway funding.