April 14, 2010

Reducing Distracted DrivingRegulation and Education to Avert Traffic Injuries and Fatalities

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Health Law and Policy and Center for Law, Ethics, and Health, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor (Mr Jacobson); O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC (Mr Gostin).

JAMA. 2010;303(14):1419-1420. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.414

Motor vehicle drivers are increasingly using electronic devices while driving for activities such as calling or sending text messages (texting) from cell phones, watching video, and searching the Internet. Automakers are also incorporating electronic devices into standard vehicle design, including dashboard Internet and satellite connections. Because these devices are integrated into everyday life, drivers mistakenly assume they can be used safely while operating a motor vehicle. Despite their dissimilarities, each of the devices distracts a driver's attention (some more than others), posing a highway safety hazard. In response, cities, states, and the federal government are enacting “distracted driving” laws and regulations. What evidence exists about the risks distracted drivers pose and how to avert them, and what are the respective responsibilities of government, industry, and drivers?

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