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States cracking down on distracted driving

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • NEW: Text message bans enacted in 28 states, D.C. and Guam since 2007
  • Distracted driving a priority for safety agencies, report says
  • States are passing tougher laws, developing education programs
  • "There is no magic bullet" to combat distracted driving, report says

(CNN) -- A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association says U.S. highway safety agencies are cracking down on distracted driving.

The report, "Curbing Distracted Driving: 2010 Survey of State Safety Programs," details how distracted driving has become a priority across the country. The survey showed states are enacting stronger laws, developing more education programs, and partnering with media and private companies to highlight the dangers of distracted driving.

In a statement, GHSA Chairman Vernon F. Betkey Jr. said, "If we are going to successfully address driver distraction, it must be done comprehensively, through a multifaceted approach including education, laws and enforcement, data collection, and private sector involvement.

"Our new report shows states are already going down this road. We know from our experiences with drunk driving and seat belt use that there is no magic bullet, and the same holds true with distracted driving."

The GHSA says 28 states, the District of Columbia and Guam now ban text messaging by all drivers. All those laws have taken effect in just the past three years, so states are moving aggressively on this issue. In addition, the GHSA says seven states, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban handheld cell phone use while driving.

The survey shows 37 states and D.C. now have public information/education campaigns to warn about the dangers of distracted driving and 35 states have developed public/private partnerships to address the issue.

Highway safety agencies in all 50 states, the district, Guam and American Samoa participated in the survey.

The GHSA hopes to build on advances against distracted driving at its 2010 annual meeting in September. The theme will be "Technology and Highway Safety: What's Driving Our Future?"