Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has long advocated educating the public about the dangers of distracted driving and getting states to pass laws restricting cellphone calls and text messaging. He emphasizes the need for personal responsibility on the part of all drivers. "We started this campaign three years ago when no one was taking about distracted driving." Now more states are passing laws aimed at reducing distracted driving. "We’ve made a lot of progress. This is our continued drumbeat."
Newly proposed guidelines aimed at preventing distracted driving would eliminate "infotainment functions" while the car is moving. In a recent phone conference with reporters, Secretary LaHood addressed the goals for these new rules:
- "Reduce complexity and task length required by the device.
- Limit device operation to one hand only (leaving the other hand to remain on the steering wheel).
- Limit individual off-road glances required for device operation to no more than two seconds.
- Limit unnecessary visual information in the driver’s field of view.
- Limit the amount of manual inputs required for device operation."
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration administrator David Strickland emphasizes that NHTSA is not against technology, particularly GPS, but remarks, "We’re trying to make sure if they are used in the vehicle, they are used in a safe way."
Hearings will be held around the country during the next few months about the new proposals. Some manufacturers in the auto industry have already taken steps to limit a vehicle’s electronic devices while the vehicle is moving in attempt to balance consumer safety with demand. For example, many new vehicles will not allow the driver to enter a destination into a navigation device unless the vehicle is stopped. According to the spokesperson for the Governors Highway Safety Association, “DOT is on the right path. We particularly like the guideline for disabling devices that text and surf the Internet."
Every year I give presentations to area schools and parents about distracted driving in an effort to teach young people the importance of driving carefully, and to empower them to be sure they do not allow others to drive while distracted, at least not while they are in the car.
If you or your child’s school would like to know more about my presentation, please let me know. I of course do not charge a fee for it, as it is part of my volunteer community service program.
About the author:
Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him "Trial Lawyer of the Year" (2011). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners. His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA. Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of "The Best Lawyers in America" by Best Lawyers (2011 edition) and has been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2010)– national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.