Driving Distractions Should Not Kill You

WASHINGTON, DC (September 29, 2009)  – Today, the Roadway Safety Foundation (RSF) joins other safety leaders and the U.S. Department of Transportation at a national summit on distracted driving. RSF reminds motorists, opinion leaders, and policy makers about several safety countermeasures that can help prevent distracted driving crashes and lessen their severity.

“As policy makers in Washington take up the issue of distracted driving it is important for them to be aware that distractions often lead to road departure – the #1 contributing factor in highway deaths. We need to minimize distractions but when you make a mistake behind the wheel, you should not be killed, paralyzed, or severely injured. Roadway safety countermeasures such as median and roadside barriers, clear shoulders, rumble strips, bright signs, and reinforced bridge railings can help prevent these crashes or significantly lessen their severity,” said Greg Cohen, Executive Director of the Roadway Safety Foundation.

Across the country, lane and road departure crashes account for 53 percent of fatal crashes, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Most of these crashes involve only one vehicle whose driver became distracted or made another error. There are many proven, cost-effective methods to prevent these types of crashes.

“Perhaps if there had been a rumble strip on the road where my daughter was killed she would be alive today,” said Cindy Sease whose daughter Kelsey was killed as a backseat passenger in a crash on I-20 in South Carolina. It is thought that the driver of the car was distracted at the time of the crash because she was taking pictures of the back seat passengers. The teen driver of the car lost control, overcorrected, ran off the road, and eventually struck a tree.

Kelsey’s story is featured in a new DVD produced by the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the Roadway Safety Foundation, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the Federal Highway Administration. Sease recently spoke at a South Carolina news conference to announce a safety campaign which includes the DVD as well as radio and television public service announcements on the importance of rumble strips.

“Distracted driving is a growing epidemic which needs to be addressed with all the tools in our arsenal,” said Cohen. “This includes all of the four Es: education, enforcement, emergency services, AND ENGINEERING.”

The Roadway Safety Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable and educational organization. For additional information please visit www.roadwaysafety.org.