|[November 13, 2012]
Florida Holds First Distracted Driving Summit To Raise Awareness and 'Drive Change'
TAMPA, Fla. --(Business Wire)--
Distracted driving killed nearly 3,100 people and injured another
416,000 nationwide in 2010, according to the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration. Despite these dangers, surveys estimate that
drivers engage in potential accident-causing distractions - like talking
with passengers, eating, smoking, manipulating dashboard controls and
using a cell phone - 30 percent of the time their vehicles are in motion.
To address those dangerous trends, a consortium of government, business
and safety advocates joined forces today in Florida's first-ever
Distracted Driving Summit. The event - hosted by USAA in collaboration
with the Florida Department of Transportation, Shriners Hospitals for
Children® and the Distraction Advocate Network - brought
together more than 270 federal, state and local officials, law
enforcement agents, traffic safety experts, physicians and a diverse
cross-section of businesses to focus on reducing the incidence and
impact of distracted driving in the state.
"Across America, the momentum to end distracted driving continues to
grow, and today's Florida Distracted Driving Summit is another step in
the right direction," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood,
who delivered the keynote address at the event. "I appreciate and
applaud the advocates who are working tirelessly here in Florida to
remind drivers to keep their eyes on the road, their hands on the wheel
and their focus on driving."
The Florida Department of Transportation announced steps to reduce the
number of distracted driving fatalities in the state. A 2012 Strategic
Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) was recently signed with other state and
agency officials, with a new emphasis on distracted driving. This
five-year plan combines the talents of safety stakeholders to strengthen
the agency's education, engineering, enforcement and emergency response
to make Florida highways safer. Through the SHSP, Florida is developing
creative, innovative strategies to drive down fatalities.
"Florida is committed to driving down fatalities on our roadways. Every
day and every trip we make, we can make the choice to focus on the road
ahead, and that's what we should all be doing," said Florida Department
of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad. "It starts with each one of
During the summit, victims' families shared personal stories, academics
discussed the science and research behind the behavior and physicians
highlighted the traumatic injuries caused by distracted driving crashes.
Also, summit attendees discussed broader aspects of distracted driving,
such as how corporations can help address the issue through their own
policies and how organizations can best reach teens with relevant
Summit co-host USAA
is taking an active role in raising awareness of the dangers of
distracted driving by providing advice and guidance that can help
protect USAA members and benefit the American public.
"Distracted driving is a widespread problem across the nation," said
retired Army Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner, president, USAA Property and
Casualty Insurance Group. "And it will take a concerted effort to
educate one another and elevate awareness of the danger it represents on
our roads and highways."
The summit marked the first event hosted in part by the new Distraction
Advocate Network, established by distracted driving awareness advocate
Jennifer Smith, who lost her mother to a distracted driver in 2008.
"We are pleased that this event has brought so many Floridians together
to talk about the issue of distracted driving in this state and look
forward to continuing efforts to end distracted driving in Florida and
nationally," said Smith. "Through my organization, I'm looking forward
to continuing to connect the many groups and organizations advocating
against distracted driving, so that together we can end distracted
driving for good."
Shriners Hospitals for Children led a panel discussion on the types of
injuries that can be sustained in motor vehicle crashes and highlighted
treatment and care options.
"Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of spinal cord
injuries," said Dr. Lawrence Vogel, MD, Shriners Hospitals for Children®
Chicago. "As a world-leader in pediatric spinal cord injury
rehabilitation and management, we are committed to doing our part to
prevent injuries and fatalities on the road by promoting safe driving
practices through education and awareness efforts."
Additional information on distracted driving may be found at www.distraction.gov.
USAA provides insurance, banking, investment and retirement products and
services to 9.3 million members of the U.S. military and their families.
Known for its legendary commitment to its members, USAA is consistently
recognized for outstanding service, employee well-being and financial
strength. USAA membership is open to all who are serving or have
honorably served our nation in the U.S. military - and their eligible
family members. For more information about USAA, or to learn more about
membership, visit usaa.com.
About The Florida Department of Transportation
FDOT is committed to providing a safe transportation system that ensures
the mobility of people and goods, enhances economic prosperity and
preserves the quality of our environment and communities. As a
decentralized agency, FDOT consists of seven districts and Florida's
Turnpike Enterprise. The department is led by Secretary Ananth Prasad,
who manages the $7-billion agency which oversees infrastructure projects
that benefit the citizens and businesses of Florida, including port
dredging, highway expansion and maintenance projects. For more
information, please visit www.dot.state.fl.us.
About Shriners Hospitals for Children®
Shriners Hospitals for Children® is a health care system of
22 hospitals dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing
pediatric specialty care, innovative research, and outstanding teaching
programs for medical professionals. Children up to age 18 with
orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and
palate are eligible for care and receive all services in a
family-centered environment, regardless of the patients' ability to pay.
For more information, visit www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org.
Find us on Facebook (News - Alert) www.facebook.com/ShrinersHospitalsforChildren;
Follow us on Twitter (News - Alert) www.twitter.com/shrinershosp.
About Distraction Advocate Network
Distraction Advocate Network is a grassroots movement empowering
organizations, foundations and individuals to generate awareness and
recognition to the epidemic known as Distracted Driving. The Distraction
Advocate Network engages and supports families affected by distracted
driving crashes through state-and-nationwide resources which include
shared information, tips, and activities; outreach and media relations;
advocacy, legislation and government relations; and a place to join
together to support and embrace the shared losses and efforts across the
nation. This network will serve as a meeting place to share, learn and
collaborate on many levels and generate the change needed to prevent
more deaths from distracted driving occurrences. Visit our website: www.distractionadvocatenetwork.org.
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