Report Seeks to Make Distracted Driving “Completely Unacceptable”

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The Governors Highway Safety Association and General Motors plans to make it unacceptable for people to drive distracted, which has now become a social norm for most drivers who admit that they are texting or sending emails while driving.

A new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association and General Motors seeks to change the social norms surrounding distracted driving and “make it completely unacceptable” for road users to engage in distracted driving. According to a GHSA press release, the 50-page report, titled Directing Drivers’ Attention: A State Highway Safety Office Roadmap for Combating Distracted Driving, examines the full extent of the problem and offers a range of recommendations to mitigate it.

As the GHSA notes, distracted driving poses fatal risks. Data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 3,142 people lost their lives in distracted driving-related car crashes in 2020, with another 400,000 people injured each year. (These estimates are likely low “due to underreporting,” the GHSA stresses.) Still, distracted driving behaviors are highly common, with “more than half of drivers” acknowledging using their phone to text and/or send emails while in their vehicles. 

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Data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tells us that in 2020 there were about 3,142 people who lost their lives in traffic accidents that were directly related to distracted driving.

In a statement about the issue, the GHSA’s Executive Director said: “Distraction is rampant on our roads. Watch the passing cars the next time you’re waiting at a crosswalk or riding in a vehicle—odds are you’ll see someone not paying full attention to the road. Too many drivers are quick to point the finger at others driving distracted but refuse to look in the mirror and improve their own behavior behind the wheel. Everyone must do their part to help make distracted driving socially unacceptable or inattentive drivers will continue to kill people on U.S. roads.”

General Motors’ Vice President of Global Product Safety and Systems, meanwhile, said: “General Motors is proud to have supported the Governors Highway Safety Association throughout the development of this action-oriented report. We encourage SHSOs around the country to put some of these key recommendations into action in their communities as we work to reduce distracted driving and other unsafe behavior on the road.”

The report makes more than 24 recommendations to reduce distracted driving behaviors. These include investments in public education and community programs to change behaviors; encouraging officials at every level of government to prioritize the issue; partnerships “with insurers, technology companies, safety advocates, employers, state and local infrastructure authorities” on safety initiatives; lobbying for more robust distracted driving laws; and the collection of “more effective data” about the issue. 

More information on the NHTSA’s efforts to combat distracted driving is available via the agency’s press release and its 50-page report.

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