SUBJECT Hearing on Addressing the Problem of Distracted Driving by yxx12129

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									                                         October 28, 2009


SUMMARY OF SUBJECT MATTER

TO:            Members of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit

FROM:          Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Staff

SUBJECT:       Hearing on “Addressing the Problem of Distracted Driving”


                                      PURPOSE OF HEARING

        The Subcommittee on Highways and Transit is scheduled to meet on Thursday, October 29,
2009, at 9:30 a.m., in room 2167 of the Rayburn House Office Building to receive testimony
regarding the impact of distracted driving on roadway safety. Witnesses will also discuss efforts and
options for combating distracted driving, and integrating emerging technologies in a manner that
does not jeopardize roadway safety. This hearing is part of the Subcommittee’s effort to authorize
Federal surface transportation programs. The Subcommittee will hear from the Secretary of
Transportation, a State highway safety administrator, representatives from academia, the wireless
industry, the trucking industry, a labor union, and highway safety advocates.


                                           BACKGROUND

        Distracted driving—or driving while engaging in behavior or activities that interfere with
operation of a vehicle or divert the attention of the driver—has become a growing roadway safety
concern. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2008:

      5,870 people lost their lives and an estimated 515,000 people were injured in police-reported
       crashes in which at least one form of driver distraction was reported on the crash report;

      Driver distraction was reported to have been involved in 16 percent of all fatal crashes in
       2008, according to data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), increasing
       from 12 percent in 2004; and
       The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age
        group—16 percent of all under-20 drivers in fatal crashes were reported to have been
        distracted while driving.

         There are a wide array of activities that cause vehicle operators’ attention to be diverted away
from the primary task of driving, which has the potential to cause or contribute to a crash. Much of
the recent focus on this issue has been on the impact of the introduction of greater technology, both
in-vehicle systems (e.g., GPS, traffic information, and MP3 players) and communication devices
(e.g., cell phones and text messaging), which have grown quickly during the past decade. According
to the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association:

       There were more than 276 million wireless cell phone subscribers in the United States as of
        June 2009, an increase of 42 percent from 194 million in June 2005, and nearly three times
        more than the 97 million wireless subscribers in June 2000. Minutes of use have surged to
        more than 1.1 trillion in June 2008 from 195 billion in June 2000.

       Over 600 billion text messages were sent in 2008, nearly four times the number sent in 2006.
        Over 110 billion text messages were sent in the United States in the month of December
        2008 alone, a tenfold increase over just three years.

        While cell phones, texting and e-mails and other integrated technologies have many
beneficial uses, these services can increase risk of crashes when used while operating a motor
vehicle. Research continues to explore the conditions that contribute to crashes, but there is a
growing consensus that tasks that require the driver to divert their eyes from the road and/or hands
from the steering wheel –– such as dialing a handheld device, sending a text message, or looking at a
map –– pose a serious cognitive distraction and undermine driver performance. Yet, many people
report that they talk on a cell phone or text while driving. According to a 2008 survey conducted for
the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety, approximately 53
percent of drivers reported talking on a cell phone within the last 30 days. Two out of three drivers
aged 18-34 reported using a cell phone while driving. The same survey found that 14 percent of
respondents reported text messaging while driving in the past 30 days. Almost 50 percent of
respondents aged 18-24 reported texting and driving within the last 30 days.

I.      Recent Research Regarding Distracted Driving

      Recent data demonstrate the significant roadway safety risks raised by distracted driving
among passenger vehicles and commercial motor vehicles:

       National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey—NHTSA recently conducted a
        nationwide survey of crashes involving light passenger vehicles with a focus on factors
        related to pre-crash events. The National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey
        (NMVCCS) investigated a national representative sample of 5,471 crashes between July 2005
        and December 2007. The survey assessed the critical event that preceded the crash, the
        causes for the event, and any other associated factors that might have played a role.
        Researchers assessed the reason underlying this critical event and attributed that reason to
        either the driver, the condition of the vehicle, failure of the vehicle systems, adverse environ-
        mental conditions, or roadway design. Each of these areas was further broken down to


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and interstate bus operators, and to suspend and revoke the Commercial Driver Licenses of school
bus drivers convicted of texting while driving.


                        PRIOR LEGISLATIVE AND OVERSIGHT ACTIVITY

       On July 16, 2008, the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit held a hearing on NHTSA’s
behavioral highway safety programs.


                                          WITNESSES

                                    VIDEO PRESENTATION

                                        Dr. Tom Dingus
                                            Director
                              Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

                                            PANEL I

                              The Honorable Carolyn McCarthy
                                     Congresswoman
                                   New York, 4th District

                                            PANEL II

                                The Honorable Ray LaHood
                                           Secretary
                               U.S. Department of Transportation

                                           PANEL III

                                 Mr. Vernon F. Betkey, Jr.
                                          Chairman
                             Governors Highway Safety Association

                                        Dr. Tom Dingus
                                            Director
                              Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

                                    Mr. Bobby Franklin
                                   Executive Vice President
                                CTIA- The Wireless Association®

                                     Mr. John Ulczycki
                 Group Vice President- Research, Communications & Advocacy
                                   National Safety Council



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                   Mr. Randy Mullett
Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs
                      Con-way Inc.

                Mr. Robert Strassburger
        Vice President of Safety & Harmonization
         Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers

                 Mr. Edward Wytkind
                       President
      Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO




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