You've seen it. A car drifting across lanes, unexpectedly slowing down or speeding up, not seeing a stop sign. You wonder, is that guy drunk? And then you see a cell phone on his ear or him looking down to enter text. And despite laws in some states banning talking or texting while driving, it continues unabated.
About 1 in 6 people who were killed in car crashes in 2009 died because they or others were talking or texting on cell phones. And that's probably an understatement, as many times police don't report if cell phone use played a part in a crash. That's an unchanged percentage change from 2008, even though last year had the lowest number of death's on the nation's highways since 2008.
448,000 people were injured in accident's involving "distracted driving" according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Charles Dharapak/Associated Press
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood mimics cell phone use as he talks about distracted driving at the Department of Transportation in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood is holding a national summit on "distracted driving" tomorrow for the second year in a row. He says "distracted driving" is as bad as drunk driving, "People have gotten into very bad behavior into thinking they can use these cell phones or texting devices while they're driving. So we're trying to have a really strong drumbeat that this bad behavior has to be corrected."
NPR's advice? Well Car Talk's Tom and Ray's bits of advice for new drivers, their first: Drive Now. Talk Later. Their second: Pay Attention.