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Transportation Secretary LaHood Approaches Automakers in Distracted Driving Campaign

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is approaching Detroit auto manufacturers for help on his campaign against distracted driving. Within the past few years the auto industry has introduced a variety of advanced navigation and entertainment systems in their new vehicles, some of which have been deemed distracting.

While LaHood avoided pressuring the automakers to address the new technology, he did suggest that the companies could sponsor public service announcements on the dangers of distracted driving.

LaHood visited representatives from Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler in Detroit in early 2011 for “open agenda” talks. “We believe the automakers can be partners and we need their help,” said Secretary LaHood.

The auto industry spent $9.15 billion on advertising in the first nine months of 2010, a 24 percent increase from the previous year. Auto sales in 2010 skyrocketed after historic lows in the previous years.

Secretary LaHood’s campaign against distracted driving has led him to high-profile events and speeches, and the release of a series of videos on the dangers of distracted driving.

In April, LaHood announced a pilot crackdown program on drivers using cell phones in Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse, New York. The goal is to discourage drivers from being distracted by issuing citations.

Local law enforcement was given the power to pull over and ticket any drivers they see with a cell phone in hand. The federal government spent $200,000 for both pilot cities and both Connecticut and New York spent $100,000.

Although the initial costs of the programs may be high, they have the potential to make roads safer and decrease motor vehicle accidents.