Today, I'm pleased to help the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) launch its Transportation and Energy Distinguished Lecture Series.
The Obama Administration has a number of transportation-related problems we would love to have MIT students and faculty help us solve, and today I'll call upon the Transportation@MIT community to:
- Build a car that doesn’t crash
- Design a vehicle that emits zero greenhouse gasses
- Engineer a green revolution that changes the ways we generate and
consume energy--and that powers a new century of economic growth.
But I'm particularly keen on using their talent to solve one more problem: distracted driving.
Readers of this blog know this is one issue I am passionate about; you know that I even appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show last Friday. But it's not until you read the posts on my Facebook wall that you begin to understand the devastating human cost of this deadly behavior.
Week after week family and friends of victims have been posting the stories of their tragic losses. And, as many of you know, these stories are truly heartrending.
If you watched Oprah on Friday, for example, you saw Jacy Good of Pennsylvania tell the story of her crushing injuries and the loss of her mother and her father in one moment. Because a driver was distracted. Jacy was on the verge of tears, Oprah was on the verge of tears, and in DC's Newseum where I participated in one of Oprah's viewing rallies, many in the crowd could not fight off their tears.
Well, my Facebook wall is all-too-full of similar sad narratives.
These horrible losses are 100% preventable; this has to stop.
And that's why today I'm appealing to the MIT community, among America's best and brightest, for help. I'm asking them to use their prodigious research skills to help us end this epidemic through three different avenues:
- Education--How can we best communicate the dangers of this practice to drivers? How can MIT's expertise in new media guide our outreach to target groups?
- Enforcement--Police officers tell us it's difficult to detect whether someone is texting while driving. Can MIT engineers help devise roadside methods of discovering a driver who is playing with electronics rather than focusing on the road?
- Technology--Can MIT researchers develop an app that blocks a driver's distracting devices without blocking the cell phones of passengers?
We are building momentum to make distracted driving disappear.
Today, we're adding Transportation@MIT.
We're going to beat this thing. We are. We can't afford not to.