Speeches and Presentations

Remarks: National Distracted Driving Awareness Campaign Media Event

Dr. Mark R. Rosekind , NHTSA Administrator

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 | Inglewood, California

Mark R. Rosekind, Ph.D.
Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
Inglewood, California
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
As Prepared for Delivery

I’m pleased to be with the California Office of Traffic Safety, our colleagues from NTSB, and our other essential California safety partners to kick of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and NHTSA’s U Drive. U Text. U Pay. national enforcement crackdown.

Throughout April, we’ll be working with our safety partners in California and across America to educate Americans about the dangers of distracted driving.

In 2014 alone, 3,179 people were killed in distracted driving crashes and an estimated 431,000 were injured — some in ways that will forever change their lives.

We’re particularly focused on younger drivers. Ten percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the crashes.

As you can see from the photos here, we are losing far too much of your nation’s future to wholly preventable distracted driving crashes.

It’s up to each of us — parents and policymakers, police officers and safety partners — to drive home the message that responsible driving means being focused on the road, not a phone, or any other distractions inside the vehicle.

We also can’t exempt ourselves, the adults, from these lessons.

Today it’s popular to stereotype young people as being inextricably attached to their phones. Adults can be just as bad. The data backs this up.

At any given moment during daylight hours more than 660,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone. They aren’t all young people.

Young or old, behind the wheel, riding inside the car, on a bike or on foot, distraction kills.

This message is made all the more powerful when it’s backed up by effective enforcement of laws against distracted driving. That’s why our U Drive. U Text. U Pay. campaign combines national advertising with a crackdown on drivers caught texting or using their mobile devices when behind the wheel.

From April 8 to April 13, participating law enforcement agencies across the country will be out in force looking for distracted drivers and issuing tickets.

There is a simple way to avoid a ticket or, far worse, a deadly distracted driving crash. Follow this rule: before the car is turned, the phone is turned off. Taking away the temptation to check your email or text when behind the wheel is your first step toward safer driving.

Thank you.

Now let me turn it over to Chris Hart, the Chairman of the NTSB.