“New Universe of Risk” on U.S. Roadways Warrants National Driver Safety Program, says Driver Safety Advocate, Douglas R. Horn
Kansas City Crash Lawyer and Founder of Drive by Example, Horn says a substantial number of US drivers have become “legally dangerous” due to cell phone distraction
INDEPENDENCE, MO / April 22, 2014 —
American motorists are facing what one national driver safety advocate is calling “a New Universe of Risk” caused by the growing number of distracted drivers who are prone to taking their eyes off the road and their hands off the wheel. To effectively address this new universe of roadway risk, attorney Douglas R. Horn, founder of Drive By Example, is calling for the creation of a National Driver Safety Program administered by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) to chart the course for advancing driver safety and protection in all 50 states.
“Ten years ago, a small number of drivers on the road were considered truly dangerous because they willfully operated their vehicles in a reckless manner, often while impaired by alcohol or drugs,” says Horn. “Today, despite new anti-texting/anti-cell phone laws, the number of truly dangerous drivers on the road has ballooned, not only because many drivers still consider using their cell phone while driving to be an economic or social necessity, but also because our pressure-filled, deadline-driven society often creates stressed-out, pressured drivers who are more likely to be in a hurry and less likely to consider the risks associated with speeding, sudden lane changes, ignoring traffic signals, and other reckless behavior while operating their vehicles.”
Horn says to properly address the issue of dangerous driving, a National Driving Safety program administrated at the federal level is needed. Such a program would provide:
- A national voice that puts driving safety high on the public consciousness and encourages the adoption of higher driving standards:
“I’m a big proponent of the states having the responsibility for conducting driver safety campaigns and programs,” says Horn. “What we need the federal government and its agencies to do is set the tone for the program, that is, determine the degree of importance that the citizens of each state need to place on driver safety.
- The framework for effectively addressing driver safety in the 21stCentury:“To advance driver safety,
we need a framework which encourages higher driver standards; one which gives direction and continuity to our efforts to restore safe driving as a societal expectation. If that’s what is really needed, we need to get started with laying out a framework. But we won’t achieve that as a society by continuing on with state programs that are fractured and based only on enforcement. The states will take the lead from the federal government. If the federal government comes up with a framework, the states will follow,” says Horn.
- More effective use of federal funds designated for highway safety:“Currently we spend millions of federal dollars on driver safety-related programs. However, many of these programs are short-term and built around laws that require extensive manpower to be enforced. Instead of focusing on criminalizing driving conduct, we need to really investigate what encouraging good driving behavior would do for us,” says Horn.
Horn says on April 7, 2014, the US DOT launched the first-ever national distracted driving campaign to combat America’s highest driving safety priority. The 8.5-million-dollar, week-long mass media campaign dubbed, “UDrive, UText, UPay” was designed to coincide with the states’ efforts to enforce anti-texting laws.
“Clearly, the US DOT has the authority and initiative to undertake national driver safety campaigns, but short-term mass media campaigns based on enforcement fines like the “UDrive, UText, UPay” campaign do not address the real issues that trigger dangerous driving and have no lasting effect on improving driving habits,” says Horn.
“By implementing a properly conceived, comprehensive, and sustained National Driving Safety program, federal transportation and safety officials could take an important first-step in putting driver safety at the forefront of public health improvement,” says Horn. “Moreover, a nationally- sponsored effort would provide much needed consistency in addressing the most pressing U.S. driver protection initiatives, including distracted driving prevention, impaired driving reduction, and teen driver protection through ongoing federal encouragement of higher national driving standards.”