“No text message or phone call is worth the risk”

“No text message or phone call is worth the risk”

On a late winter afternoon, I was run off the New Jersey Turnpike by a delivery truck whose driver was talking on a cell phone.

No one was seriously injured in the collision, but I’ll never forget the loud “pop” of metal against glass and seeing the truck flip over and grind to a halt in a shower of sparks next to my badly-dented car.

When it happened 17 years ago, there were no laws against talking on a cellphone and driving. But thanks in no small part to a consumer-friendly Transportation Department — the most consumer-friendly ever, perhaps — there are. The latest is a proposed new safety regulation that would prohibit interstate commercial truck and bus drivers from using hand-held cell phones while operating a commercial motor vehicle.
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If traffic fatalities just hit a record low then why is Ray LaHood unhappy?

First, the good news: The government this morning announced that the number of overall traffic fatalities reported at the end of 2009 reached the lowest level since 1954, a new record.

Now the bad news: The boss is still unhappy.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood dismissed the results in a blog post this morning:

I am … disturbed that we are still talking about nearly 34,000 preventable deaths a year. There are still too many people dying in traffic accidents every year. Just too many.

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