It’s no secret that distracted driving is an epidemic in this country. Whether it's texting or talking on a cell phone, Americans are dangerously accustomed to having our eyes and attention on our devices instead of on the road. And we know from our Faces of Distracted Driving video series that the tragic cost of this behavior is simply too high.
The Department of Transportation cannot fight this deadly practice alone. That’s why I am so thankful when individuals, organizations, and companies jump in and help raise awareness of this important safety issue.
One of our terrific partners has been Allstate. With their "X the TXT" campaign, they have really helped us get the message across to young drivers that no text or call is worth a life. And today in Orlando, Allstate is hosting a Family Driving Challenge. This is a great event for parents and teens to learn together about the risks of texting or talking on a cell phone behind the wheel.
At the Walt Disney World® Speedway near Orlando, National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland will join Allstate CEO Tom Wilson in a roundtable discussion about exercising individual responsibility by putting our phones away when driving.
Also at today's event is Kristin Murphy, from our latest Faces of Distracted Driving video. There is perhaps no better teacher for today's participants. And if you don't believe me, watch Kristin's video and consider how much was lost in her daughter Chelsey's death when Kristin quietly reflects, "Those dreams were gonna come true."
Today's challenge in Orlando will be a real treat for participants because NHTSA Administrator Strickland and Allstate's Tom Wilson will get behind the wheel to see how they compare against the parent-teen teams. And, while I'm sure that will be amusing for the folks in Orlando to see, it's an important reminder that distracted driving is not just a teen problem.
To help everyone learn from this demonstration, videos of participants on the course are shown on site and posted at www.facebook.com/drivingchange. Not only does the Family Driving Challenge allow parents and teens to learn together; it also offers a starting point for the conversation about distracted driving and safe driving practices for viewers nationwide.
So, I’d like to extend special thanks to Allstate for their terrific support in our fight for safer roads, and to everyone who puts on events like this that really help drivers see the safety risk distracted driving poses. I know the parents and teens participating today will have a great time and learn a valuable lesson.