Thursday, August 13, 2009
The dangers of distracted driving, especially those associated with emailing and texting while driving, have become hot issues after the recent release of new reports, including initial findings from our second annual Traffic Safety Culture Index survey. And, while I applaud efforts, such as the recently announced US DOT forum on distracted driving, let us not forget the bigger issue of changing the culture in this country. Specifically, our recent findings were that 90% of drivers believed drinking and driving was a serious threat to their safety, while 87% felt the same way about texting or emailing while driving. And, I believe, although we have not completely solved the drunk driving problem, we have made substantial progress, and we have changed the culture with respect to drinking and driving. It is no longer socially acceptable to “have one for the road,” and society has effectively stigmatized drinking and driving. In contrast, while 87% of our survey respondents believed texting and emailing while driving were serious threats, over 40% of drivers younger than 35 admitted to texting while driving during the last month (and about one if five of all drivers of all ages). And, unfortunately, our current culture seems to accept if not encourage these attitudes and behaviors. One death on our highways is unacceptable; one death every thirteen minutes is an outrage!