‘Rampant’ Distracted Driving Spurs Call for Laws, Culture Shift

  • GM, governors’ group outlines recommendations in new report
  • Competitive grants planned to encourage states to take steps

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Texting while driving and other distractions endanger public safety and require tougher enforcement and a culture change, General Motors Co. and a governors’ group say in a new report.

“Distraction is rampant on our roads,” Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, said in a statement along with the report released Thursday. “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.”

At least nine people are killed in the US every day because of distracted driving accidents, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has calculated.

GM, the largest US automaker, and the governors’ safety group recommend 29 steps for state highway safety offices. Among them are: new education programs, state laws, and enforcement tactics.

GM encourages state highway safety offices “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,” Regina Carto, the company’s vice president for global product safety and systems, said in a statement.

Earlier: Slower Roads, Better Brakes Planned to Fight Road Deaths (1)

The GHSA, with support from GM, is offering competitive grants to states to test and carry out the recommendations. The governors’ group will present the report findings at a webinar on June 16.

More than half of drivers admit to using their phone while on the road alone, the report said, citing an American Automobile Association survey.

“Distracted driving remains a persistent and, unfortunately, widely acceptable practice,” the governors’ group said in their report. “Progress has remained stagnant and the fight against distracted driving has largely been a traffic safety culture failure.”

Read More: Traffic Deaths Lead Among At-Work Fatal Injuries in U.S. in 2020

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 3,142 people died in 2020 due to distracted driving, and 400,000 were injured. These number are likely underreported, according to the safety association’s report.

NHTSA has made it a priority to research the behavior behind distracted driving.

While GM and the governors’ group point to use of electronic devices as a primary example of distracted driving, other practices such as eating or daydreaming—also impair performance behind the wheel, the report said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mia McCarthy at mmccarthy@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Robin Meszoly at rmeszoly@bgov.com; Anna Yukhananov at ayukhananov@bloombergindustry.com

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