There is no better way for 2011 to get up and running than with a safety boost. And for people on the roads in Delaware, Kansas, and Kentucky, that is exactly how the year is beginning. Last year, all three of those states enacted bans on texting while driving; with the beginning of the New Year, those regulations have now taken effect.
In 2009, distracted-driving-related crashes killed nearly 5,500 people on America's roadways and injured more than 500,000 more. But these crashes are not accidents. Distraction-related crashes are 100 percent preventable; all we need is for drivers to take personal responsibility when they get behind the wheel of their car, truck or SUV.
Sadly, distracted driving crashes exact a terrible price. People pay with their lives and with terrible injuries. Family members are left to pick up the pieces.
As evidence of distracted driving dangers mount, some states have done the right thing by stepping in and saying, "You talk; you text; you pay."
But this is not something we can do alone. So, I am glad to have the help of courageous legislatures in Delaware, Kansas, and Kentucky. And I want to congratulate Governors Jack Markell, Mark Parkinson, and Steve Beshear. These lawmakers and leaders have made safety their top priority, and the people using the roads in their states will be safer for it.
So, as we kick off 2011, the list of states banning texting behind the wheel is now 30 strong, plus Guam and the District of Columbia. That's a great way to start the year. And by the time we close the books on 2011, I know we will do even better. Fortunately, we have 361 days to prove it.