Washington Post

MIT Joins Fight Against Distracted Driving

From Oprah’s National No Phone Day to commercials during your favorite sitcom, it is widely known cell phone use behind the wheel is a dangerous endeavor. A recent study by the American Automobile Association found the risk of an auto accident increases by approximately 50% while texting behind the wheel. According to a webinar hosted by Neustar 2.5 billion text messages are sent per day in the United States… too many of these from behind the wheel.

Ray LaHood, Secretary of the United States Transportation, has taken a firm lead in the fight against distracted driving. LaHood took part in the Washington No Phone Zone rally last Friday emphasizing the importance of putting cell phones away while driving. A largely useful suggestion LaHood has made is for driver’s to place their cell phones in the glove box before operating a vehicle. The Secretary has enlisted the help of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to find a technology with the ability to disable a driver’s cell phone use while not blocking passenger’s cell phone usage.

According to an article in the Washington Post LaHood’s research has uncovered the following facts:

  • Eight in ten drivers talk on the phone behind the wheel.
  • Cell phones are a factor in an estimated 342,000 auto accident injuries per year.
  • The cost of property damage, lost wages, medical bills and lost lives accrues to a whopping $43 billion per year.

Distracted driving is not an issue to take lightly. The Secretary visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge to personally request help in his fight against cell phone related distracted driving. LaHood challenged the students and faculty to build a car that will not crash, design a zero emission greenhouse gas vehicle, and create a green revolution changing the way energy is consumed and generated.

Emission Standards Increase

Standards for motor vehicles and light trucks accelerated  this month when a whopping 35.5 mpg by 2016 requirement was set. The previous emissions requirement of 35 mpg by 2020 set  by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 just wasn’t enough for Obama.

The Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson claims  the savings of this advancement will be great for consumers. According to Jackson, the new accelerated standard would reduce oil consumption by about 1.8 billion barrels between 2012 and 2016, stop greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that of 42 million cars, and save the average auto consumer more than $3,000 in fuel costs. – “That Clean Car Smell”

In other words, look forward to a cleaner environment and a heavier checkbook.

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