U.S. seeks to curb distracted driving

Texting while driving

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

BILL RADKE: You might want to put down your cell phone for this next story. Today in Washington, the Transportation Department is hosting a conference on the danger of distracted driving. Marketplace's Alisa Roth joins us live to talk about it. Good morning, Alisa.

ALISA ROTH: Good morning.

RADKE: Tell us about distracted driving and the pressure the government is under to curb it?

ROTH: 16 percent of all highway deaths are related to distracted driving. And, as you referred to, that's not just talking on your phone -- but it's writing texts, it's using your GPS, it's searching your mp3 player. The other thing is that number's probably low, because not all states ask about distracted driving on accident reports. Lawmakers at both state and federal levels have been trying to enact more rules that would forbid distracted driving, again broadly defined. Texting and driving, specifically, is illegal in 30 states plus Washington D.C. It's also banned for commercial truck drivers and bus drivers in a lot of states.

RADKE: And I would think technology, it sounds like a problem. But couldn't it have a fix, Alisa? What's being done on the technology side of this?

ROTH: Well, there are a lot of things that are being done. Companies are looking at ways to make a lot of this safer, so voice recognition software that lets you create a text message without your hands or make a phone call without dialing. Car companies are also looking at ways to integrate these technologies into the dashboard so there's less maneuvering with small devices. One of the big challenges for lawmakers these days is to write the new laws so they're broad enough to cover technologies that we may not have though of yet. And that's probably be one of the things that they'll be talking about at this summit today.

RADKE: Marketplace's Alisa Roth, thank you.

ROTH: You're welcome.

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