It’s April, distracted driving month

former congresswoman betsy markey fights distracted drivingApril is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, debuting this year with the support of safety advocates, law enforcement agencies and the U.S. DOT.

Former U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey, pictured, made the designation official last year, with the help of the victims and survivors group FocusDriven.

The California Highway Patrol is one of many law enforcement agencies nationwide that have adopted a “zero tolerance” enforcement policy for the month. More than 225 California police agencies and 103 California Highway Patrol agencies are participating in the crackdown.

Markey’s resolution began by invoking the name of 9-year-old Erica Forney of Fort Collins, Colo., who was struck and killed by a distracted driver in 2008.

The House voted to support the designation of April as distracted driving awareness month and encouraged “all people in the United States to consider the lives of others on the road and avoid distracted driving.”

The resolution (H.Res. 1186) was introduced March 16, 2010, and approved by a near-unanimous roll call vote a week later. The two lawmakers opposed to the distracted driving awareness month resolution were Republicans from Texas and Illinois.

Markey, D-Colorado, lost her seat to a Republican in the fall 2010 election.

Erica Forney’s mother, Shelley, one of the co-founders of FocusDriven, said in response to the House of Representatives’ vote:

My husband and I thank congresswoman Markey and the House for approving this resolution. We believe National Distracted Driving Awareness Month can help raise awareness nationwide on the dangers of talking or texting on a cell phone while driving. Erica’s memory will forever live on through this resolution and help prevent other distracted driving deaths from occurring.

Comments

  1. Gabrielle Lewis says:

    Here is a video that I made on the consequences of distracted driving.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wV3Ib3S2DJQ

  2. Sean Wendt says:

    I applaud all efforts to educate drivers about the real dangers of distracted driving. Every day I see people driving badly WITHOUT being distracted by their cell phones, and when I see someone who is, I stay far away and pray that other innocent drivers are not hurt when the texting driver’s luck finally runs out.

    However, I do not think that certain laws, such as fines/tickets for texting-while-driving will do much, if anything, to curb it from happening. I hope that our leaders will find ways to not just take a political stance on the issue, but actually effect change. Perhaps if there were a zero tolerance policy — i.e. if you text and drive, you lose your license (the solution to the problem of actually proving this, not withstanding) — people would think twice about putting others lives’ at risk.

    • Sean: We have seen some legislators ask, at least rhetorically, Why not apply the same set of penalties and drivers license suspensions that are used for drunken driving. That could be a model for electronic distracted driving punishments that achieve something along the lines of what you propose. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, look forward to your next one.

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