Wednesday, May 19, 2010

U.N. and International Officials Launch Global Effort to End Distracted Driving

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and senior representatives from the United States and Russia appeared at the United Nations headquarters in New York today to launch a global effort to address the growing and deadly epidemic of distracted driving. Secretary Ban was joined for the announcement by U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin and Jennifer Smith, President of FocusDriven, a victims’ advocacy organization based in the U.S.

With approximately 600 million passenger cars on the road today and 4.6 billion cell phone subscriptions worldwide, drivers talking and texting behind the wheel is becoming a growing public safety threat. Distracted drivers are about four times as likely to be involved in a crash as those who are focused on driving, and drivers who are texting are more than 20 times more likely to crash than non-distracted drivers. In 2008, nearly 6,000 people were killed and more than half a million were injured in crashes involving distracted driving in the U.S. alone.

Today, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a directive to more than 40,000 United Nations staff, barring employees from texting behind the wheel while driving U.N.-owned vehicles. Similarly, President Obama signed an Executive Order last fall prohibiting nearly 4 million U.S. government employees from texting while operating government-owned cell phones, vehicles or while on official business.

The rapid increase in cell phone use around the world threatens to exacerbate an already worsening traffic fatality rate worldwide. Today, road crashes claim 1.3 million lives each year, the equivalent of one death every 30 seconds. By 2030, the World Health Organization projects that traffic crashes will climb from the ninth to the fifth leading cause of death worldwide. The vast majority of road crashes result from preventable driver behavior.

The global anti-distracted driving effort launched today also has an active online component that will allow other countries, safety organizations, and anti-distraction campaigns to share news and research as well as multimedia and other information. Facebook users can find out more about the campaign as well as other anti-distraction groups and events by visiting, the Global Call to End Distracted Driving Facebook page. The U.S. Department of Transportation also hosts an official U.S. government website to devoted anti-distraction news and information at,

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