WASHINGTON, D.C. --- U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood this week announced plans to hold a national summit in late September to study texting while driving and other driver behaviors that take attention off the road.
The announcement comes after several highly publicized vehicle and mass transit accidents involving drivers who were text messaging.
The summit will include senior transportation officials, safety advocates, law enforcement representatives, members of Congress and researchers.
Following the summit, LaHood will announce a list of steps aimed at curbing distracted driving, the Los Angeles Times reported. Those measures may include education and awareness campaigns as well as legislative efforts.
"If it were up to me, I would ban drivers from texting," LaHood said. But he acknowledged that laws, including those prohibiting drunk driving, are often insufficient without education campaigns and adequate enforcement.
In announcing the summit, LaHood cited a recent accident involving a 17-year-old girl from Peoria, Ill., who died in an accident in which she drove off the road while texting friends.
Driver distractions aren't limited to cell phone use, of course. Earlier this year, a 56-year-old Illinois woman riding a motorcycle was struck and killed by a woman who was applying nail polish while driving. "The bottom line is distracted driving is dangerous driving," LaHood said.