BuzzFeed Video: If Driving Was Taught Like Sex Ed…

October 27, 2014 at 10:00 am

via BuzzFeedVideo

Given the high number of road deaths around the world (~1.2million fatalities/year globally and ~34K in the US alone), we can definitely use something like this to get the kids ready for the road ..  It is quite funny with all the innuendos and not-so-subtle references to sex-ed. (BTW, looking at the number of hits the video has garnered on YouTube, I couldn’t  help but wish the safety videos from Govt and other non.profit organizations enjoy this level of attention).

Not Getting Enough Facebook and Twitter In a Day? How About An Ultimate Social Car? Ford & Facebook Are Getting It Done

February 29, 2012 at 7:44 pm

(Source: Ford via Autoblog)

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Though I’m a bit alarmed by the cognitive distraction (for drivers) potential associated with this technology, it is awesome to see the collaboration between the vehicle manufacturers and the app developers to put together an “intelligent” vehicle.   For sure, Secretary LaHood and his staff at USDOT will be spending a lot of time thinking about how to accommodate these tech advancements in the vehicle environment while prioritizing the safety of drivers on the road. If you have not already seen this, the USDOT has recently proposed the first-ever federal guidelines to encourage automobile manufacturers to limit the distraction risk for these in-vehicle electronic devices.  The proposed guidelines are voluntary and would apply to communications, entertainment, information gathering, and navigation devices or functions that are built into the vehicle and are not required to safely operate the vehicles.  In any case, it is safe to say that the vehicles of today will look a LOT dumber compared to these SMART cars that will roll out of the assembly lines in Detroit a few years from now.

Picture is worth a thousand words! This one speaks a couple of thousands against distracted driving

November 5, 2010 at 2:29 pm

(Source: USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood’s Fastlane Blog)

After looking at this picture, I’m sure you will never drive while talking on the cell phone.

Image Courtesy: Eva Levine via Sec. Ray LaHood's Fastlane Blog

Sec. Ray LaHood’s blog post offers some details behind this horrific mangled mess of metal:

  • A garage New Canaan, Connecticut has put this mangled vehicle on display along with a “No-Cell-Phones” sign . This one was destroyed in a crash that may have been caused–not by drunk driving, but by a distracted driver.
  • The red VW Jetta, now barely recognizable, was being driven by a 19-year-old woman. When she entered Interstate 95, she struck another vehicle, causing her car to spin out and hit the median, where it was hit by a tractor trailer. The young driver was killed in the accident.
  • The deceased driver’s family gave written approval for the Garage owner  to put it on a highly visible corner of his property with hopes of deterring at least a few “distracted drivers.”

What a powerful message, in deed.


Image Courtesy: Eva Levine via Sec. Ray LaHood's Fastlane Blog

Click here to read more.

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STOP DISTRACTED DRIVING: Leaving no stone unturned – U.S.DOT joins Network of Employers for Traffic Safety for Drive Safely Work Week 2010

August 5, 2010 at 3:22 pm

(Source: The FastLane Blog)

Sec. Ray LaHood is leaving no stones unturned in his effort to fight the Distracted Driving epidemic.  I reported yesterday about his efforts to team-up with ESPN and State Farm, taking the STOP DISTRACTED DRIVING message on road to 19 cities.  It is better and better by the day! In his blog post today, he announced that USDOT is expanding this initiative to involve private employers from around the country.  Laudable effort!

Focus: safe driving is serious business

In 2008, nearly 6,000 people in America died in crashes involving a distracted driver. It is a serious, life-threatening epidemic, and DOT cannot fight it alone.

One of the most important sources of support has been private employers. Businesses across the US have begun to adopt policies against distracted driving.

But many employers have not yet taken this crucial step to protect themselves and their staff. That’s why, as Drive Safely Work Week (October 4-8) approaches, the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) has prepared a free, web-based toolkit to help employers take the crucial next step.

Click here to read the entire blog post

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“Don’t Talk While He Drives” – Bangalore City in India Delivers “Distracted Driving” Message With Stunning Visuals

May 10, 2010 at 5:15 pm

(Sources: The Inspiration Room & @Kiruba)

Source: Bangalore City Traffic Police via The Inspiration Room

I got this above image, courtesy of friend a (@Kiruba),  which I consider to be a strikingly effective capture that tells the dangers of Distracted Driving.  I was piqued by the creativity of this advertisement campaign by the Bangalore City Traffic Police (in India), and went looking for more details behind this creative effort.

Thanks to Google, I found The Inspiration Room, and got the following details along with a few more gruesome, yet effective pictures from this brilliant campaign.    These images capture the dangers of Distracted Driving, telling the story from the other side of the conversation a.k.a the non-Driver’s point of view.

Source: Bangalore City Traffic Police via The Inspiration Room

Source: Bangalore City Traffic Police via The Inspiration Room

Summary of the Project:

The outdoor advertising campaign uses disturbing photography to shock people out of talking to their friends and families on the phone while they are driving. Men and women are shown grimacing as blood spurts out from their telephones. The tag line: “Don’t talk while he drives. ”  IMHO, this is probably one of the best advertisement campaigns EVER devised to combat Distracted Driving, and ranks way up there along with the  famous British PSA video on dangers of Texting While Driving.

The Creative Team:

Developed at Mudra Group, India, by executive creative director Joono Simon, art director Vinci Raj, copywriter Akhilesh Bagri, photographer Mallikarjun Katakol, with retouching by Sathish.

American teenagers defy the advise! Still continuing to text while driving in alarming numbers

November 16, 2009 at 9:10 pm

(Source: Mashable; Washington Post; Pew Research Center)

Image Courtesy: Pew Research Center

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has just published the results of a study on distracted driving behavior amongst teenagers which shows that teens are aware of the dangers of texting while driving, but they choose to do it anyway.

After surveying 800 teens in 4 US cities over the summer of 2009, Pew estimates that 26% of all American teens 16-17 have texted while driving, and 43% have talked on a cell phone while driving.

Even more alarming is that 48% of teens 12-17 have witnessed someone else texting while driving, which points to an ambivalence and acceptance of the practice. The findings also indicate that even state laws prohibiting these activities may not be discouraging newly licensed drivers from using their mobile devices while behind the wheel.

Here are the major findings from the survey and focus groups (courtesy of Pew Research Center):

  • 75% of all American teens ages 12-17 own a cell phone, and 66% use their phones to send or receive text messages.
  • Older teens are more likely than younger teens to have cell phones and use text messaging; 82% of teens ages 16-17 have a cell phone and 76% of that cohort are cell phone texters.
  • One in three (34%) texting teens ages 16-17 say they have texted while driving. That translates into 26% of all American teens ages 16-17.
  • Half (52%) of cell-owning teens ages 16-17 say they have talked on a cell phone while driving. That translates into 43% of all American teens ages 16-17.
  • 48% of all teens ages 12-17 say they have been in a car when the driver was texting.
  • 40% say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger.

The NHTSA said that 5,870 people died and an estimated 515,000 were injured last year in accidents that police attributed to distracted driving.

That number of fatalities last year was exactly half the number of people who died as a result of drunken driving. The actual number of distracted-driving deaths and injuries is probably much higher than the numbers show. There is nothing like the blood alcohol test to prove that someone was texting — phone records are not clear-cut proof and drivers who cause accidents are no more prone to admit they were texting than they are to say they are drunk.

At a conference he convened to discuss distracted driving, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stressed the importance of parents paying attention to the road to provide a positive example for their children.

The Pew research found that too few do.

“The frequency of teens reporting parent cellphone use behind the wheel in our focus groups was striking, and suggested, in many cases, that texting while driving is a family affair,” the report said.

Click here to read the entire research report in HTML.   Or you can alternatively download/read the report in the PDF format shown below.

Lawmakers hear that Texting while Driving is the “perfect storm” of Driver Distraction

October 29, 2009 at 5:57 pm

(Source: Wired)

The senate, the Department of Transportation and the FCC want you to stop texting while driving, and on Wednesday, they all but declared a war on texting, promising education campaigns and laws to convince you to put your phone down — at least while you are piloting a two-ton SUV going 70 mph.

In a Senate hearing Wednesday, using a mobile phone while driving was said to be more dangerous than drunk driving, the cause of 16 percent of fatal accidents in the United States and a “perfect storm” of distraction.

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood concluded his testimony by calling texting while driving a “menace to society,” saying the department’s research showed that 6,000 people a year died because it distracted drivers of all kinds. Here are some excerpts from the Secretary’s blog on this topic:

Here’s a start: Experts agree that there are three types of distraction–

Visual – taking your eyes off the road;

Manual – taking your hands off the wheel; and

Cognitive – taking your mind off the road.

While all distractions can adversely impact safety, texting is particularly troubling because it involves all three types of distraction. In the words of Dr. John Lee of the University of Wisconsin, this produces a “perfect storm.”

Not convinced? Our latest research shows that nearly 6,000 people died last year in crashes involving a distracted driver, and more than half a million people were injured.

At issue is the Distracted Driving Prevention Act of 2009 (.pdf) that Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) and Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) introduced Wednesday that seeks to ban texting while driving, a category that includes using a PDA, checking e-mail on a BlackBerry or manipulating a GPS unit with your hand. The bill (S. 1938) also targets drivers who make calls without using a headset. Texting or calling while pulled over on the side of the road is fine, but not while at a red light.  

Rockefeller noted  “Nowadays, you have to text or you are not with it — you are not educated. But it’s lethal behavior when you get in a car.”   He wants some sort of phone-blocking device installed in cars, presumably one that knows the difference between a driver’s phone and passengers’ phones.

Rockefeller seemed to recognize that perhaps the only thing more dangerous than texting while driving is trying to take the media spotlight from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York), and so let him testify at the hearing on the Rockefeller-Lautenberg bill because Schumer had introduced the Alert Drivers Act earlier this year.

By contrast Schumer’s bill would withhold 25 percent of federal transportation funding from states that don’t implement strong anti-texting while driving rules, a tactic Congress has used in the past to force states to lower their speed limits and raise the drinking age to 21.

A bill, possibly a combination of the two, is likely to pass eventually, given that President Obama just unilaterally banned federal employees from texting while driving federal vehicles (starting in 2010) and even mobile carriers like Sprint support the idea.

For all those interested, Secretary LaHood has been doing rounds in the hill ever since he held that Distracted Driving Summit.  Today he went back to Congress to talk about distracted driving. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee wanted information on the dangers of distracted driving, and he was more than willing to talk to them about this issue which he calls an “epidemic.” You can hear he the Secretary’s input on the Committee’s website.

Click here to read the entire article.

TransportGooru Exclusive: Thoughts & observations of Distracted Driving Summit Panelist, Mr. Rod McKenzie, CTO of Intelligent Transportation Society of America

October 5, 2009 at 5:57 pm

Thanks to Rod McKenzie, the Chief Technology Officer of Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), for sharing his summary of observations from the Distracted Driving Summit (See below for Rod’s bio).  Rod was also among of the distinguished panelists that participated in the Summit, which makes this article even more compelling.  Also, don’t forget to check last week’s article by Adam Hoops, a Transportgooru supporter & ITS industry whiz, who shared with us his views and notes from the Summit (he participated virtually, watching and listening to the proceedings online).

Note: Please register your comments/kudos below for Rod in the comments box below.


Last week I had the honor of participating in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Distracted Driving Summit. Our panel was focused on technology’s role in both preventing and contributing to distracted driving. I was accompanied by my other panelists in highlighting how technology can help address distracted driving, and must not be demonized in our efforts to end what Secretary LaHood described as an epidemic of driver distraction.

Over the course of the Summit one of the prominent topics was legislation, with discussion on how we as a nation can legislate and enforce against dangerous practices such as texting while driving. While these bans are clearly an essential part of the campaign to reduce the fatalities that distracted driving causes, the American Automobile Association (AAA) amongst others presented data that demonstrated we must do more than just legislate. A survey of AAA membership demonstrated that even though a large majority of people acknowledged the extreme danger of texting or dialing on a cell phone while driving, many of these same people surveyed admitted they themselves had recently done these very actions while driving.

New technologies such as cell phones, PDA’s, after-market GPS systems, and MP3 players have become such a strong part of our lives that we are apparently not willing to stop using them even behind the wheel. Legislation, enforcement and education are extremely important in changing dangerous behaviors and making our roads safer, but we can also integrate many of these technologies into our cars to minimize distraction. Technologies such as hands-free phone and GPS navigation systems must be integrated carefully and seamlessly into the vehicle driving environment. Displays must be easily visible without having to take your eyes off the road and controls must be simple and intuitive, avoiding the need for hands off the wheel. Conversational voice technology is developing rapidly creating new systems that allow text messages to be read to the driver, who can then dictate and send a response using voice command.

Additionally, preventative technologies are already keeping drivers focused on the driving task, helping to prevent accidents caused by distracted driving. Lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, fatigue detection and other technologies ensure driver mistakes don’t turn into accidents. Of course, these technologies must be carefully developed and integrated into the vehicle so that the communication of the additional information they can provide does not itself become a distraction.

Distracted Driving is one of the oldest new problems we have, and while the misuse of new technologies has contributed to the problem, technology and innovation are also a key part of the solution. The multi-pronged approach of legislating behavior, public education and making our technology smarter and safer is the key to ending distracted driving. Just as anti-lock brakes and stability control have been proven to help drivers avoid accidents, technology will continue to adapt to the modern driver’s needs to provide a safe driving experience.


Author’s Bio:  Rod MacKenzie provides oversight for ITS America’s technical and business development programs. As vice president for programs, he is responsible for leading the program staff and providing day-to-day guidance on program management, project execution, and resource allocation. In his role as chief technical officer, Rod monitors new technologies and assesses their potential to become new products or services within the ITS marketplace, overseeing the selection of technical projects to ensure that they have the potential to add value to the organization and its members.

Rod has more than 20 years of experience in the automotive, telematics, navigation, and mobile infotainment industries. Prior to joining ITS America’s staff in April 2009, Rod was the vice president of advanced applications and services at XM Satellite Radio where he led the development of new telematics capabilities and infotainment services, including real-time traffic and weather, with particular focus on the company’s core automotive business and OEM partners.

Rod holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Brunel University in Uxbridge, England.

About ITS America: ITS America is a non-profit organization engaged in promoting & fostering the  use of advanced technologies in surface transportation systems.  ITSA is the leading advocate for technologies that improve the safety, security and efficiency of the nation’s surface transportation system.

TransportGooru Exclusive: Thoughts & observations of a Distracted Driving Summit Participant

October 1, 2009 at 7:12 pm

The following report about the Distracted Driving Summit is prepared Adam Hopps, a transportation whiz, who participated virtually over the past 2 days (September 30 & Oct 1, 2009), tirelessly taking notes while observing the Summit proceedings online.  Shortly after the event finish, Adam e-mailed his observations for sharing it with the rest of the community.  Please note that these are Adam’s thoughts and by no means should be considered as a summary of the event.  Thanks, Adam for helping us stay informed.


Thanks to the US D.O.T.’s efforts at opening up participation in their Distracted Driving Summit, I spent the last two days as one of 5,000 online viewers who watched industry reps, academics, legislators, and policy experts discuss what Secretary LaHood describes as, “the epidemic of distracted driving.”

For those of us not in the building the department also provided an online “chat and tweet room” so that every expert, novice, and personal advocate could give their two cents in response to what was being said live. It’s a perfect symbol of democracy in the Web 2.0 ear, where on one computer screen you can see live a public servant of 20 years desperately trying to convince people to adopt legislation to allow police to enforce drivers who text, while reading “Mark K” write: “We have too many cops. They like things orderly. Freedom is chaotic, so too many cops affects society.”

It’s also a reminder of how transportation is truly a democratic issue – perhaps one of the few issues that affect every individual daily. We all go places every day. We have loved ones who go places. We are doing this constantly, and as the summit pointed out of course, we move dangerously and with reckless behaviors.

The summit drew on a wide variety of people to make this point:

  1. Victims of distracted driving reminding us of the end results
  2. Transportation researchers informing us our risk of accident increases 2300% when we text
  3. Law enforcement officials telling us the type of distraction doesn’t matter – all distractions are deadly
  4. Legislators preaching to us that we need laws to prevent these behaviors
  5. AAA reporting that people do it even though they know it’s dangerous
  6. Wireless companies ensuring us they want to help as much as anyone
  7. Teens sharing with us the life changing effects of their distracted driving.

. . . . And many more people from all areas of the transportation field reminding us that distracted driving kills.

The value of the summit was in the substance of the presenters and the nature of the experience. Even though Secretary LaHood ended the summit by announcing policy changes and an executive order from the President banning all federal officials from texting while driving, these two days were more about the U.S. DOT engaging academia, industry and public officials on an extremely important topic. Sure, there were plenty of Mark K’s commenting wildly in the chat room, but there were also thousands of people discussing the best way to enforce a texting law, or how to really educated teens on driving or even debating the nature of federal transportation laws.

So the people are engaged, we know we need to end distracted driving, but how do we do it? Two major solutions were presented: Do we create a society where law enforcement is responsible for punishing us when we fall to the temptation to text while driving? Or do we make our technology safer and more intuitive and design systems to prevent distractions?

In his closing, Secretary LaHood laid out the end goal: “Driving while distracted should just feel wrong – just as driving without a seat belt or driving while intoxicated.

Click here to read the Secretary’s blog about the summit and to replay the proceedings.

Note: Please register your comments/kudos below for Adam in the comments box below.

Agenda for Distracted Driving Summit Announced; Leaders Explore Solutions to Distracted Driving;

September 16, 2009 at 11:30 am
DOT Distracted Driving Summit 2009 logo

Image Courtesy: USDOT

(Source: USDOT Press Release)

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced the agenda  for the Distracted Driving Summit on Tuesday (shown below), September 30 and Wednesday, October 1. Over 200 safety experts, researchers, elected officials and members of the public will gather in Washington, D.C. to share their experiences, provide feedback and develop recommendations for reducing the growing safety risk that distracted driving is imposing on our nation’s roads.

The Distracted Driving Summit will bring together respected leaders from around the country for interactive sessions on the extent and impact of the problem, current research, regulations, best practices and other key topics. The two day Summit will feature five panels – on data, research, technology, policy, and outreach – with a range of experts discussing each topic.

  • The Summit will begin with a context setting panel where participants will examine the scope of the issue and the various distractions that exist, followed by a panel that will review currently available research.
  • Day one wraps up with an examination of distractions caused by technology and efforts made to assess and reduce negative effects caused by current and planned devices. Panelists will also consider technology that can prevent the consequences of driver distraction.
  • Day two features a review of legislative and regulatory approaches for dealing with distracted driving; evaluations of the impact of such measures; and enforcement issues. Members of Congress and their staff will also have the opportunity to contribute to the discussion.
  • Day two concludes with a discussion with teens about their experiences with distracted driving followed by an examination of various public awareness initiatives and research regarding the effectiveness of these efforts.

To accommodate the strong response, the Summit will be available live by webcast and members of the public will be given the opportunity to submit questions online for each individual panel discussion. The complete agenda and additional information about the Summit can be found at .  Also, you can follow the latest developments via twitter @ distractdriving


Distracted Driving Summit
September 30 – October 1, 2009
Renaissance Hotel, 999 9th Street NW, Washington, DC

Agenda Is Subject to Change

Wednesday, September 30

DOT Welcome and Summit Opening
Peter Appel, Administrator
Research and Innovative Technology Administration

Opening Address
Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation

Panel: Driver Distractions and Inattention – Definitions and Data
A context-setting panel on the definition of distracted driving (what it is and what it is not), data on the extent of the issue, the types of distractions across surface modes of transportation.

Moderator:       Victor Mendez, Administrator, Federal Highway Administration

Speaker:           Dr. John D. Lee, Professor, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Speaker:           Kristin Backstrom, Senior Manager, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Speaker:           John Inglish, General Manager, Utah Transit Authority
Speaker:           Bruce Magladry, Director, Office of Highway Safety, National Transportation Safety Board

Panel: Research Results – How Risky is Distracted Driving?

This panel session will review what various research – experimental research, industry self reporting, collision studies, and observational studies– tell us about the nature of the problem of distracted driving.

Moderator:       Rose McMurray, Acting Deputy Administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Speaker:           Dr. Ann Dellinger, Lead, Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention Team,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center of  Injury Prevention and Control
Speaker:           Dr. Tom Dingus, Director, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
Speaker:           Dr. William Horrey, Chair, Surface Transportation Technical Group,
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and Research Scientist,
Center for Behavioral Sciences, Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety
Speaker:           Dr. Key Dismukes, Chief Scientist, Human Systems Integration
Division, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Ames Research Center

Panel: Technology and Distracted Driving
This panel will focus on distractions caused by technology and on efforts that have been made (or are needed) to assess and reduce the negative impact of distractions caused by current and planned devices.  It will also consider technology that can prevent the consequences of distraction.

Moderator:       Peter Appel, Administrator, Research and Innovative Technology Administration

Speaker:           Dr. David Eby, Research Associate Professor and Head, Social
and Behavioral Analysis, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute
Speaker:           Rob Strassburger, Vice President, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
Speaker:           Steve Largent, President and Chief Executive Officer, International Association
for Wireless Telecommunications Industry
Speaker:           Michael Petricone, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Consumer Electronics Association
Speaker:           Rod MacKenzie, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of
Programs, Intelligent Transportation Society of America

Thursday, October 1

Congressional Presentation

Panel: Legislation, Regulation and Enforcement of Distracted Driving
This panel session will review legislative and regulatory approaches for addressing distracted driving; evaluations of the impact of such measures; enforcement issues; and public attitudes towards the issue.

Moderator:       Peter Rogoff, Administrator, Federal Transit Administration

Speaker:           John D’Amico, Representative, Illinois General Assembly
Speaker:           Bruce Starr, Senator, Oregon Senate and Executive Committee Member of the National Conference
of State Legislatures
Speaker:           Steve Farley, Representative, Arizona House of Representatives
Speaker:           Major David Salmon, Director, Traffic Services Division, New York State Police
Speaker:           Vernon Betkey, Chairman, Governors Highway Safety Association
and Director of the Maryland Highway Safety Office

Youth Program

Panel: Public Awareness and Education
This panel will review initiatives to increase public awareness of safety issues such as distracted driving, and will review research regarding the effectiveness of such efforts.

Moderator: Ron Medford, Acting Deputy Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Speaker:           Sandy Spavone, Executive Director, National Organization for Youth Safety
Speaker:           Chuck Hurley, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer,  Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Speaker:           Ann Shoket, Editor-in-Chief, Seventeen Magazine
Speaker:           Janet Froetscher, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Safety Council
Speaker:           Dr. Adrian Lund, President, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Secretary LaHood
Closing Remarks and Action Plan