WASHINGTON – Drivers who talk or text on their cellphones may hear from the Secretary of Transportation in a very personal way.
“I drive around on the weekends in Washington,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood tells WTOP about his informal road patrols.
When he sees what he describes as “my biggest source of irritation” — somebody on a cellphone, LaHood takes action.
“What I’ve been doing is kind of honking at somebody if I see him on a cellphone.”
LaHood says it’s his way of “taking personal responsibility” to reduce driver distractions.
Texting while driving increased 50 percent in 2010, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
In 2010, there were an estimated 3,092 deaths in crashes involving driver distractions, the most recent year for which data is available. A government survey of drivers found that two out of 10 say they’ve sent messages from behind the wheel. Younger drivers are more likely to do so.
Currently, 35 states and D.C. ban texting while driving, and nine states and the District bar hand-held cellphone use. Thirty states ban all cellphone use for beginning drivers. No states ban the use of hands-free devices for all drivers.
A one-day NTSB forum on March 27 will look at the types of distractions that compete for a driver’s attention, as well as the differences in how states address distracted driving.
The forum will be held in D.C. at the NTSB’s Board Room and Conference Center at 429 L’Enfant Plaza SW. The public can attend the forum or watch it by webcast at www.ntsb.gov.
LaHood is not the only one whose top driving pet peeve is texting and talking.