The National Transportation Safety Board and a host of road safety advocates have joined forces to launch the National Distracted Driving Coalition. The new group’s mission is to promote innovative and collaborative approaches to create a culture of attentive drivers and to serve as a central clearinghouse for diverse stakeholders.
The coalition was officially launched by National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg. In addition to the NTSB, it includes members such as the American Trucking Associations, Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, the Governors Highway Safety Association, the National Safety Council, Together for Safer Roads, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, and others.
Distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,142 lives in 2019 alone and nearly 390,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving, according to the coalition. The DDC‘s vision is to accelerate national efforts to implement short- and long-term interventions that will promote attentive driving and eliminate distracted driving fatalities and injuries.
While several states are making some progress addressing this dangerous and growing problem on our nation’s highways, no state has implemented the NTSB recommendation calling for a complete ban on the use of all personal electronic devices while driving except in the case of emergency.
However, the coalition plans to combat distracted driving though a wide range of actions and partnering with diverse stakeholders. Key long-term action steps include:
- data collection and tracking
- education aimed at consumer and commercial drivers
- promoting best practices for employers and developing workplace distracted driving policies
- supporting programs to train law enforcement
- preparing policy and briefings to support legislative initiatives
- helping to evaluate emerging in-vehicle technologies designed to reduce distraction.
On its website, the DDC announced its immediate action plan priorities for 2021 as follows:
- Create an overall coalition brand and centralized resource for distracted driving materials.
- Communicate the importance of having prevalence data to measure and track the problem.
- Conduct a national survey to focus on what it would take for drivers to change their behavior and identify the barriers that prevent behavior change.
- Highlight the importance of educational messaging to underscore the risks of hands-free phones as a source of distraction.
- Work with children and youth to increase distracted driving prevention strategies.
- Promote best practices for workplace distracted driving policies to inspire corporate leadership and encourage that leadership to extend their culture of safety to other influencers and the community at large.
- Prepare policy/legislative briefing documents to support legislative initiatives.