David Strickland has tried to understand safer, distraction-free driving since he started working at NHTSA in January 2010. Strickland has been working hard towards this objective along with other big wigs including Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, safety advocacy groups, private-sector executives, and automobile manufacturers.
The Transportation Department launched a web site to educate Americans and policymakers about the dangers of distracted driving www.distraction.gov . Strickland and his coworkers are working with the states to enforce against distraction. Currently, 33 states along with the District of Columbia and Guam have passed antitexting laws. Eight of those states have also forbidden handheld-phone use while driving.
Following the success of such campaigns as ‘Click It or Ticket,’ the use of seat belts rose to 85 percent. “We think that with this model–we have great hopes that it will work for distraction,” Strickland said. The agency is also helping states enforce their rules by running an ad campaign called, ‘Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other.’
Strickland clarified that this would be at a state level not national level as state laws deal with the driver. His hope is that this state law would require people to keep their hands on the wheel and focus on the road.
Mobile apps are a popular issue and regulating them while driving poses to be a greater problem. “At the telematics conference in Michigan,” Strickland added, “everyone was gawking about apps and no one was talking about their safety. When [safety] isn’t part of the conversation, I see consequences on a large scale.” Strickland discussed how mobile applications developed without safety in mind increase the risk for all drivers.
When asked what is next for NHTSA, Strickland was clear about his and the agency’s mission–to save lives.