US mulls national programme to reduce phone use while driving

Washington, July 13 (IANS/EFE) US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Tuesday that his department will consider implementing a national programme against the use of cell phones while driving, once the measure has been tried out in the states of Connecticut and New York.

On his blog, LaHood said Tuesday that his department's formula for boosting security - "strong laws, strong enforcement, and ongoing public awareness" - has reduced the use of cell phones in two pilot programmes in Syracuse, New York, and Hartford, Connecticut.

LaHood also took the occasion to announce the extension of the programme statewide in New York and Connecticut "to test its effectiveness as a possible blueprint for safety across the country".

On Monday the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, announced the results of the two pilot programmes in Hartford and Syracuse, and said they have dramatically reduced the incidence of talking and texting on cell phones while driving.

In Syracuse the reduction was 32 percent, while in Hartford the figure was 57 percent less talking and 72 percent less texting.

NHTSA said that in 2009 a total of 5,500 people died and another 500,000 were injured in accidents caused by drivers' distraction while using cell phones and other mobile instruments.

The figure means that 16 percent of deaths in traffic accidents that year were the direct consequence of drivers' distraction while using cell phones.

The dire result came despite the fact that in 34 states and the District of Columbia it is against the law to send text messages while driving.


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Title: US mulls national programme to reduce phone use while driving

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