Distracted Driving Risks Prompt HRT to Ban Cell Phones for Drivers
In a memo to all HRT employees announcing the stricter ban on cell phone and handheld device use, Shucet wrote, "Eighty percent of all fatal automobile accidents -- and 65 percent of near crashes -- happen within three seconds of some form of driver distraction. In 2009, 5,474 lives were lost and 448,000 people injured in the U.S. as a direct result of distracted driving, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research."
Shucet also authorized release of the public safety video above at the same time that he stressed distracted driving dangers to his staff. The state of Virginia (VA) already makes texting while driving a ticketable offense for drivers who cause accidents or get pulled over for another reason. Similarly, the federal government banned cell phone use by its employees in 2009, and interstate truck and train engineers and conductors can face criminal charges if they use cell phones while on duty.
Cell phone bans that predate the strengthened HRT policy came in the wake of numerous fatal big rig, train and car accidents due to distracted driving. I applaud the effort to take phones, PDAs and computers out the hands of HRT employees.