Thursday, July 23, 2009

Driven to Distraction

A study that showed the real danger of distracted drivers: those that use cell phones and other devices while on the road was never released because of a fear of angering Congress. That such a thing could happen in the United States is a sad commentary on politics. The information could have been used to change laws to make our highways less dangerous and save lives. Drivers using cell phones on the road, especially while texting, are a major danger.

The study was sought based on evidence that such multitasking was a serious and growing threat on America’s roadways. But such an ambitious study never happened. And the researchers’ agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration , decided not to make public hundreds of pages of research and warnings about the use of phones by drivers — in part, officials say, because of concerns about angering Congress.

On Tuesday, the full body of research is being made public for the first time by two consumer advocacy groups, which filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for the documents. The Center for Auto Safety and Public Citizen provided a copy to The New York Times, which is publishing the documents on its website.

In interviews, the officials who withheld the research offered their fullest explanation to date. The former head of the highway safety agency said he was urged to withhold the research to avoid antagonizing members of Congress who had warned the agency to stick to its mission of gathering safety data but not to lobby states.

Critics say that rationale and the failure of the Transportation Department, which oversees the highway agency, to more vigorously pursue distracted driving has cost lives and allowed to blossom a culture of behind-the-wheel multitasking.

"U.S. Withheld Data on Risks of Distracted Driving", New York Times, 7/20/09.



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Who am I?

I am a law enforcement professional with over 35 years experience in both sworn and civilian positions. I have service in 3 different countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

My principal areas of expertise are: (1) Intelligence, (2) Training and Development, (3) Knowledge Management, and (4) Administration/Supervision.

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