Distracted drivers, responsible for some 30 percent of all crashes, beware: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is stepping up his bid to get you to turn off that cellular phone and drop the nose hair clippers.
After putting carmakers on notice to skip the fancy doodads and getting states to pass laws banning cellphone use in cars, LaHood, considered the most effective DOT boss ever, has finally won the backing of some states to count distracted driving details in crash reports just like drunk driving.
In a tweet Thursday he heralded a new report used nationwide to track crashes that included distracted driver information such as whether drivers were gabbing on the phone or texting. "Collecting consistent information about motor vehicle crashes is essential to improving road safety," he tweeted.
According to the new "Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria Guideline," the following driver distractions will be sought by cops: texting, typing, dialing, eating, and working on personal hygiene. The rational, said the report, is that it is "important to identify specific driver behavior during a crash and understand and mitigate the effects of distracted activities."
LaHood and insurance companies are eager to get the nasty details so they can pressure even more states to pass distracted driving laws--and enforce them.
What's more, the Governor's Highway Safety Association, which produced the new crash report, wants employers to develop new anti-distracted driving policies. The report reveals that nearly 2,000 companies ban employees from using hand-held cellphones in their car. The report endorsed by LaHood wants more companies to follow suit.
It also called on states to "help employers develop and implement distracted driving policies and programs. Many companies have established and implemented cell phone policies for their employees. Company policies can be a powerful influence on employees' driving," said the report.
According to recent distracted driving surveys, 24 percent of all drivers said that they had texted while driving over the last 30 days; 16 percent of all fatal accidents are caused by distracted driving; and in a study of 100 car wrecks, 80 percent were caused by drivers not paying attention to where they are going.