BBB, US DOT Collaborate to Fight Distracted Driving

  
     
June 13, 2011
Ridgeland, Miss., June 9, 2011 - U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced on Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) will collaborate to educate consumers and businesses about the dangers of distracted driving.

The USDOT and BBB are calling on businesses across the country to adopt distracted driving policies as part of their employee culture.  A strong distracted driving policy helps companies save lives, reduce time lost from work due to accidents and injuries, reduce insurance premiums, and save money. 
 
"Drivers are four times more likely to be in a crash if they are
distracted while behind the wheel,” said Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. “The Mississippi Highway Patrol encourages all drivers, no matter their age, to put their cell phones down and avoid all behaviors that will keep their full attention from focusing on driving."

“Distracted driving destroys lives and property every day, and seems to increasing as a threat to public safety,” said Bill Moak, President of the BBB Serving Mississippi. “With the business community involved, we believe we can begin to address this growing concern.”

BBB websites will feature a link to a free tool kit that provides employers with suggested distracted driving policies to help keep their employees safe.  The kit, created by the USDOT and the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), contains materials such as a sample company policy, a sample memo to employees on that policy, and a sample company press release.  

In addition, the BBB website (http://ms.bbb.org/business/distracted-driving) will feature videos from USDOT’s “Faces of Distracted Driving” video series. The videos include heartbreaking stories from family members who have lost loved ones due to distracted driving accidents. A link to www.distraction.gov, a complete resource on everything having to do with distracted driving, will also be provided.

In 2009, nearly 5,500 people in the U.S. were killed and almost a half-million were injured in accidents related to distracted driving. Eighteen percent of those fatal accidents involved the use of a cell phone.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s campaign against distracted driving is a multi-modal effort that includes automobiles, trains, planes, and commercial vehicles.

“Distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on America’s roads,” Secretary LaHood said. “We know that educating people about the risk of distracted driving works, and we are pleased to be working with BBB to raise awareness and help businesses and consumers fight this problem.”

On September 30, 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing federal employees not to engage in text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles; when using electronic equipment supplied by the government while driving; or while driving privately owned vehicles when they’re on official government business.  The order also encourages federal contractors and others doing business with the government to adopt and enforce their own policies banning texting while driving on the job.  

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) banned commercial truck and bus drivers from texting while driving in September 2010, and proposed a ban on the use of cell phones by commercial drivers in December 2010.  In September 2010, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) proposed a ban on the use of electronic devices by drivers operating a motor vehicle containing hazardous materials, in conjunction with the proposed FMCSA ban.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) banned rail employees from using cell phones or other electronic devices on the job following a September 2008 Metrolink crash in Chatsworth, California that killed 25 people.

After a Northwest flight crew distracted by a laptop overshot their destination by 150 miles, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advised air carriers to create and enforce policies that limit distractions in the cockpit and keep pilots focused on transporting passengers safely.