WASHINGTON - Prompted by several studies revealing the dangers of behind-the-wheel texting, more than 200 safety experts, researchers, elected officials, and members of the public will gather for a two-day summit Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 in Washington, D.C. to address the growing safety risk of distracted driving.

Driving while texting (DWT) has been an especially controversial topic over the past year, with several highly publicized tragic events involving texting by commercial drivers making headlines across the country.

"We must act now to stop distracted driving from becoming a deadly epidemic on our nation's roadways," said U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary LaHood in a statement.

The summit will feature five expert panel discussions on data, research, technology, policy, and outreach. The event will begin with a context setting panel where participants will examine the scope of the issue and the various distractions that exist, followed by a panel that will review currently available research. Day One wraps up with an examination of distractions caused by technology and efforts made to assess and reduce negative effects caused by current and planned devices. Panelists will also consider technology that can prevent the consequences of driver distraction.

Day Two features a review of legislative and regulatory approaches for dealing with distracted driving; evaluations of the impact of such measures; and enforcement issues.  Members of Congress and their staff will also have the opportunity to contribute to the discussion. Day Two concludes with a discussion with teens about their experiences with distracted driving followed by an examination of various public awareness initiatives and research regarding the effectiveness of these efforts.

The complete agenda and additional information about the summit is available at www.rita.dot.gov/distracted_driving_Summit/.