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US Distracted Driving Coalition Launches National Effort 

Dozens of safety-minded organizations launched a national coalition aimed at reducing the deadly threat of distracted driving on the nation’s highways.

The 100-member steering committee for the group, the National Distracted Driving Coalition, said on Sept. 16 that it is planning to act as a central clearinghouse for local and state safety groups. It will promote national, innovative and collaborative approaches to shed light on and pursue legislation on such distracted driving practices as talking and texting on cellphones.

The coalition, which includes the American Trucking Associations, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Governors Highway Safety Association, National Sheriffs’ Association, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will focus on such areas as distracted driving data collection, technologies, education, enforcement and legislation.

“Every few hours a life is lost on the nation’s highways due to distracted driving,” said National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg. “In no other mode of transportation would we accept the kind of carnage that we have on our highways.”

In a statement, ATA said the coalition plans to communicate the importance of having prevalence data to measure and track the problem, and will prepare policy and legislative briefing documents to support legislative initiatives.

“We know that ensuring safe driving behavior is key in improving highway safety, and perhaps no action would do more for the cause of safety than reducing distractions for drivers,” said ATA President Chris Spear. “America’s truckers see motorists on their phones while driving countless times a day, and if a driver is focused on a text or call, we know they aren’t focused on driving safely.”

“When we fund impaired driving programs, we should also be funding distracted driving programs,” added Janet Brooking, executive director of Drive Smart Virginia. “When we make strong impaired driving laws with great ease, we should also be able to advance distracted driving legislation.”

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