U.S. drivers: Get tough on texting

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Three out of four U.S. drivers support tougher punishments for text messaging and driving, a recent poll suggests. There was little support for the current penalties, which vary widely and are for the most part established by states and municipalities. More than half of those surveyed in the National Safety Council poll backed the use of a point system that would eventually lead to a loss of the driver's license or increased insurance premiums. A majority also backed "large monetary fines" and escalating penalties for serial offenders. "Most people recognize that it will take more than … [Read more...]

Distraction’s toll: $175 billion a year

Money - dollar cost of crashes

Distracted driving crashes cost the United States as much as $175 billion a year, according to a federal study. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says all highway crashes add up to $871 billion -- $277 billion a year in economic costs and $594 billion in "societal harm." Distracted driving crashes accounted for $46 billion (17 percent) of the total economic losses. The societal harm was put at $129 billion (15 percent) of the societal harm. Distraction was among the five key factors listed in the report "The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, … [Read more...]

11 states flash red for safety laws

states with safety law issues in red

Eleven states are "dangerously behind" in adopting highway safety laws, according to an advocacy group's annual report. The states include Florida, Arizona, Nebraska and Alabama. Also making the group's dumb-and-dumber list are South Dakota, Mississippi, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Wyoming. South Dakota ranked as the worst in the nation in terms of "optimal" laws. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety graded all 50 states and the District of Columbia on 15 basic traffic safety laws. It assigns a rating of green, yellow or red to each state. The 2014 "Roadmap … [Read more...]

Teens quick to pick up distractions

teen text messaging

Newly licensed teens start out paying close attention to the road but quickly turn into distracted drivers, according to a new study. Multitasking behaviors such as talking on cell phones and eating while behind the wheel peak about a year and a half after the teens begin to drive, the study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute researchers suggested. "Novice drivers are more likely to engage in high-risk secondary tasks more frequently over time as they became more comfortable with driving," said Charlie Klauer, group leader of teen risk at the institute. "This appears to be an … [Read more...]

Adults more distracted than teens

Teenager with iPhone driving distracted

Teens often get the rap for the menace of distracted driving, but the evidence suggests thirtysomethings are by far the worst offenders. When asked by researchers about their cell phone use in the past month, 43 percent of adults ages 25-39 said they did "fairly often" or regularly while driving, compared with only 20 percent of teenagers. Across all age groups, two out of three drivers said they used a cell phone while driving in the past month. Among drivers under the age of 60, teens said they used cell phones less than any other age group. Since the study was self-reported, the … [Read more...]