Teens still texting while driving, survey says

The survey emphasizes the vital role of parents in fighting teen texting and driving.

The high-profile campaign against distracted driving, especially among young motorists, has seeped deep into the national culture: April is Distracted Driving Month, and the April 10 season premiere of the Fox teen hit TV show Glee features a distracted driving crash cliffhanger from last season.

Despite all that focus, a new survey from insurer State Farm indicates that many teens might still be ignoring the message.

The survey, conducted for State Farm by Harris Interactive, finds that just 43 percent of drivers ages 16 and 17 say they have never texted while driving—the same percentage as in the insurer’s first survey in 2010.…Read More

Students use social media to promote safe driving

From left, Christina Greve, Ritika Jain, and Jenny Felter, all Marshall High students, present their proposal to the judges on Dec. 9.

High school students from Fairfax County, Va., are using social media and other methods to help discourage their peers from driving while distracted by cell phones.

A team of three students from George C. Marshall High School were named winners of the “Orange Cones. No Phones.” High School Safety Challenge on Dec. 9. The contest, sponsored by Transurban-Fluor, asked Fairfax County high school students to develop a marketing plan that would discourage young drivers from texting while behind the wheel.

Transurban-Fluor is currently working on the largest highway construction project in the country, adding high-occupancy toll lanes on the Capital Beltway.…Read More

Lobbyists try to reframe distracted driving issue

Responding to moves by state legislatures to restrict motorists’ use of cell phones and other devices, a major electronics industry trade group and a Washington lobbying firm have been pushing separate efforts to reframe the debate over the dangers of distracted driving, reports the New York Times. The efforts have angered public safety advocates, some legislators, and the Secretary of Transportation, who say such restrictions would save lives. A document that has been circulating over the last week from a Washington lobbying firm, the Seward Square Group, has fueled the tension. The document, a copy of which was posted by the web site FairWarning, says the distracted driving issue has been “hijacked” by national transportation authorities and celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, who has encouraged motorists to pledge to put down their devices. The document says that the auto and technology industries have become “collateral damage” in the debate. Babak Zafarnia, a public relations executive hired by Seward to be the coalition’s spokesman, said the idea was to emphasize driver education and to focus on broad driver-distraction laws, rather than focusing on the use of particular technologies. “You can’t anticipate every possible scenario. Distraction is distraction, period,” he said, adding: “Why don’t we modernize the education curriculum to teach drivers to deal with all in-vehicle distractions?” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who received a copy of the document from a public safety advocate, said he was “alarmed” by what he interpreted as an effort to undermine the creation of tough laws aimed at discouraging drivers from using electronic devices behind the wheel. The chief distraction problem, he said “is caused by people using cell phones and BlackBerrys, and to correct the behavior, you have to have tough laws with good enforcement.”

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