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Distracted driving crusader passes the baton

One of the most pressing public safety concerns of the past few years is that of distracted driving. The federal agency charged with reducing the number of motor vehicle accidents that occur on American roads each year has therefore been understandably preoccupied with this topic during the first half of the Obama Administration. However, the leader of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) crusade to reduce the prevalence of distracted driving is turning his attention elsewhere.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has opted to work in the private sector for the length of President Obama's second term. Though NHTSA spokespersons have insisted that distracted driving prevention and enforcement regulation will remain top priorities no matter who is named as the next Transportation Secretary, it is difficult to imagine someone tackling this issue with as much focus and energy as LaHood has.

However, this transition of leadership highlights an important reality. The nature of road safety hazards is always evolving, no matter how hard we try to keep motorists, cyclists and pedestrians safe. This does not mean that road safety is an impossible goal, but rather that we as a society must remain conscious of the fact that new technology, kinds of distraction and approaches to travel will always inform our ability to remain safe when we are behind the wheel.

As the NHTSA moves forward without LaHood, efforts to enact voluntary auto manufacturer guidelines aimed at reducing driver distractions and educating drivers about distraction dangers will continue. Safety advocates hope that these efforts will continue to evolve as the problem of driver distraction evolves as well.

Source: The Detroit News, "NHTSA chief: U.S. will continue distracted driving fight," David Shepardson, Jan. 30, 2013

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