Traffic Safety

A survey released today by AAA and Seventeen magazine reports that nearly nine in ten teenage drivers have engaged in distracted-driving behaviors - such as texting and talking on cell phones, adjusting radios, driving with four or more passengers, and applying makeup - even though they know that their actions increase their risk of an accident.

Using a mobile device while driving - either talking on a cellphone or sending text messages - has significant negative effects on driver performance.  The National Safety Council estimates that 1.6 million crashes annually are the result of drivers using mobile devices.  States are combating driver distraction with laws limited the use of mobile devices by drivers.

Last week, I spoke with Mike Chalmers of USA Today for an article that ran in Wednesday's paper about states seeking alternatives to roadside memorials. Chalmers wrote about how Delaware has a memorial garden at a state rest area that provides a safe and tasteful alternative to the makeshift roadside memorials that honor victims of fatal traffic accidents but that sometimes pose safety hazards themselves. I told Chalmers that states will likely look to duplicate what Delaware is doing because it provides a sensible solution to what has proven to be a difficult balancing act for states.

Intelligent transportation system technologies—everything from traffic cameras to real time road and traffic information lines—being implemented in many states hold the promise of making travel safer, more efficient and less impactful on the environment.

Today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced new guidelines that prohibit texting by drivers of commercial vehicles. This prohibition is effective immediately, and truck and bus drivers may be subject to civil and criminal penalties of up to $2750.  This new ban is part of a series of actions by the Department to combat distracted driving.   

“We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe,” said Secretary LaHood in a press release.  “This is an important safety...

 Since the use of mobile phones adversely affects driver performance, many states are now placing restrictions or prohibitions on their use.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments urges the Congress and the administration work with CSG’s members on developing alternatives to REAL ID, such as PASS ID, that will allow states to actively participate in the development and implementation of a more secure and sustainable DL/ID system.

NOW BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments urges the Congress and the administration to work with CSG and CSG’s members as PASS ID moves through the legislative process to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that the legislation includes increased privacy protections, minimizes the cost burden to states, and continues ongoing and substantive stakeholder coordination.

Summary:  Sending and receiving text messages while driving is just one aspect of a much larger problem - distracted driving.  Driver inattention is the leading cause of traffic crashes, responsible for an estimated 80 percent of all collisions.  While cell phone use is just one aspect of distracted driving, the rapid proliferation of the devices has put texting and talking at the forefront of the battle for safer roadways.

This report includes bar charts for six indicators of road and bridge conditions and safety, including percent of roads in fair or good condition; percent of bridges structurally deficient; percent of bridges functionally obsolete; traffic fatalities per 100 million annual vehicle miles traveled (VMT); percent of traffic fatalities involving high blood alcohol concentration; and seat belt usage rates. Data were sought for a number of other outcome indicators, including injury rates, congestion and customer satisfaction. However, too few states were able to provide information on these  indicators.

Suggested State Legislation: This Act limits liability for certified child passenger safety technicians and sponsoring organizations for acts or omissions in the inspection, installation, or adjustment of child safety seats or in providing education regarding the installation or adjustment of child safety seats.

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