The Department of Transportation held a press conference this week to highlight the start of a new national campaign against distracted driving. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood has made headlines during his term for calling cellphone use behind the wheel “a national epidemic.”
The press conference included comments from the Transportation Secretary as well as a personal story from a woman who was severely injured by an inattentive driver. She told the crowd of reporters that a driver talking on their cellphone had crashed into her at a high speed while she was on her way to work one day.
She sustained a traumatic brain injury from a motorcycle accident, spinal cord injuries, and various other bodily injuries such as a cracked ribbed. The result has been a long road of rehabilitation and loss of her short term memory. She has been unable to continue to pursue the PhD in marine biology that she wanted.
This woman’s story and others like it remind us of the very real toll that distracted driving takes on our society. Most people would agree that there are very few circumstances in which we must use our phones while driving, and that even in an emergency the best course of action would be to pull off of the road and use the phone while stopped.
The Department of Transportation is expanding a program called “Phone in one hand, ticket in the other” which will step up enforcement in two states and hopefully show lawmakers that there is a need to pass a national enforcement law. Currently only 11 states do not have laws that restrict cellphone use while driving, and this campaign is intended to help create uniform laws and enforcement.