The U.S. Department of Transportation has designated April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a period during which safety officials are concentrating efforts on increasing awareness of the issue. While distracted driving has been a long-time problem, it has grown in significance in recent years.
"Distracted driving is not by any means new," said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. "However, it is a growing problem for everyone who drives or rides in a vehicle. The proliferation of portable electronic devices is but one of the factors involved in this problem."
Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. Common distractions for motorists include:
-Using a cell phone
-Eating and drinking
-Talking to passengers
-Using a navigation system
-Adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 device
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said his department is committed to ending distracted driving.
"Distracted driving is an epidemic on America's roadways," LaHood said. "You see it every day: Drivers swerving in their lanes, stopping at green lights, running red ones or narrowly missing a pedestrian because they have their eyes and minds on their phones instead of the road."
As part of the distracted-driving campaign, the U.S. Department of Transportation has set up a website, www.distraction.gov, to help drivers understand more about the issue.