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Distracted driving is epidemic

By Tara Baukus Mello · Bankrate.com
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

The U.S. Department of Transportation, or DOT, is on a mission to put a stop to the dangerous trend of distracted driving, including using handheld cellphones in cars. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood unveiled the "Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving," a comprehensive strategy that ramps up the DOT's efforts to curb hand-held cellphone use and other dangerous practices that cause car accidents, injuries and even deaths.

"Distracted driving is an epidemic. While we’ve made progress in the past three years by raising awareness about this risky behavior, the simple fact is people are continuing to be killed and injured -- and we can put an end to it," said LaHood. "Personal responsibility for putting down that cellphone is a good first step -- but we need everyone to do their part, whether it’s helping pass strong laws, educating our youngest and most vulnerable drivers, or starting their own campaign to end distracted driving."

According to DOT research, distracted driving accounts for about 10 percent of the fatalities in car crashes in the U.S., yet more than 75 percent of drivers said they will answer calls while driving at least sometimes, if not always. Car accidents associated with distracted driving can also lead to higher car insurance rates.

As part of the new campaign, $2.4 million has been allocated to California and Delaware for pilot projects that will help determine whether increased police enforcement and media coverage can reduce distracted driving in cars.

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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