Still wondering why we're putting together another Distracted Driving Summit or why I'm on such a tear against this deadly epidemic? The Birmingham News reported this weekend that more than 100 crashes per month in Alabama alone involved drivers distracted by some mobile electronic device.
That's right--according to the University of Alabama's Center for Advanced Public Safety, more than 1,400 electronic distraction-related crashes were reported in the past 13 months in Alabama alone.
Worse? The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) warns that the number is actually low because not all law enforcement agencies are using the state's new eCrash system and some began after the June 2009 eCrash start date. "It's such a new program that the data is very limited," said ADECA's Josh Carples.
I want to thank the state of Alabama for using their new eCrash system to collect distraction information. This is exactly the kind of tool we need to assess the true effects of this dangerous behavior.
And--as schools start up again in Alabama this week--this is exactly the kind of data that could convince the Alabama legislature to pass a statewide ban on texting behind the wheel and join the community of 30 states, DC and Guam that have passed similar bans.
Of course, if you've been a reader of this blog or followed me or the Global Call to End Distracted Driving on Facebook, you already know that the University of Alabama's University Transportation Center has already taken the lead on this issue by hosting its own Alabama Distracted Driving Summit. And you have also heard me congratulating the many Alabama cities and towns that have taken it upon themselves to pass municipal anti-texting laws. Those include Adamsville, Birmingham, Gadsden, Huntsville, Jacksonville, Lipscomb, Midfield, Montgomery, Prattville, Roanoke, Springville and Vestavia Hills.
And on Friday, the Alabama Child Death Review System of the Alabama Department of Public Health launched a new effort to promote teen driving safety. The three biggest threats to that safety? Not wearing seat belts, alcohol and drug use, and distraction.
Again, I can't thank the Alabama Dept. of Public Health, Alabama's cities and towns, and the University of Alabama enough for leading the way toward improved road safety for all of us. Although this new data shows there is much work still to be done, Alabama has demonstrated outstanding leadership in this important fight.