Send in the experts

Now that’s what I call having an impact! Just weeks after the New York Times ran the story about Public Citizen and the Center for Auto Safety making public the government documents showing the risks of driving while talking on a cell phone (regardless if the phone is hands-free), Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced he’s convening a panel of experts to deal with the distracted driving problem.

 From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON — Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Tuesday he will convene a summit of experts to figure out what to do about driver cell phone use and texting, practices that studies — and a growing number of accidents — show can be deadly.

LaHood said he intends to gather senior transportation officials, safety advocates, law enforcement representatives, members of Congress and academics who study distracted driving for the summit next month in Washington.

“The public is sick and tired of people being distracted and causing accidents,” LaHood told a news conference. “We all know texting while driving is dangerous and we are going to do something about it so that responsible drivers don’t have to worry about it when they or a loved one get on the road.”

Let’s hope LaHood’s experts will include consumer voices and safety advocates (and hopefully the Telecom lobby will exert minimal influence on any attempt to implement the experts’ recommendations). We need to know what the dangers are, and we need to know something is being done about them. Because, let’s face it, otherwise, people die.