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Both Devon and myself have written on the extremely dangerous road hazard of driving while distracted. In fact, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute conducted a study in July and found that texting while driving, for one, can increase the likelihood of a crash by 23 times the amount when compared to a non-texting driver. Further compounding these statistics, the Obama administration recently reported that nearly 6,000 people were killed and a half-million were injured last year in vehicle crashes caused by distracted driving.

Luckily, the has president decided to do something about these daunting statistics: starting today and continuing over the next few days, the Transportation Department will hold a government meeting on auto safety. Bringing together experts from across the country, the Transportation Department will take a serious look at highway safety and drivers who talk or text on their cell phones while driving. Secretary LaHood is expected to speak tomorrow on recommendations to improve driving safety, including putting a ban on using cellular devices while behind the wheel.

The panel of experts will include government officials, researchers, safety advocates, and lawmakers, all of whom hope to reach a consensus on reducing roadway hazards. Furthermore, the panel will also hear testimony from young drivers who have caused car accidents because they were texting while driving. Indeed, statistics show that drivers under the age of 20 constituted the greatest proportion of distracted drivers. So far, eighteen states and the District of Columbia have bans on texting while driving. Moreover, seven states and the district have banned talking on cell phones while driving as well. Secretary LaHood has also vowed to “work with Congress” to develop ways of curbing distracted driving. Given the statistics, it is extremely important that something is done to raise awareness of this roadway danger, which this summit will hopefully accomplish. However, this is only a first step—laws to deter drivers from engaging in distracted driving could save many lives each year.

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