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Jackie Fedeli
Jackie Fedeli
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Consumer Reports on Driver Safety

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To complement their Report on Best and Worst Vehicles, Consumer Reports April 2011 issue reported on safety while driving.

While groups like MADD have been around for over thirty years, to combat driving while intoxicated, and have successfully shown us a decrease in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities, Generation Y is faced with their own driving impairment; Texting.

Today, 90% of teens do not think that drinking is worth the consequences it can cause. But, over 63% of Consumer Reports respondents under the age of thirty admit to using a handheld device while driving within the past thirty days. 78% of the total respondents did admit to decreasing or stopping this harmful behavior. 66% percent of those changed their habits simply from learning of the dangers of distracted driving.

Media Campaigns, such as Oprah Winfrey’s Distracted Driving, have been credited to influencing 20% of those who reduced or stopped texting while driving.

Started in October, Lehigh Valley Hospital’s Distracted Driving Campaign offered its first publicly open program Last Tuesday.

Delaware County Resident Joel Feldman presented a video memorializing his daughter, Casey Feldman, who was killed by a distracted driver in July 2009, as he took his eyes off the road to place his iced tea into his vehicle’s cup holder. Casey was 21-years old and heading into her senior year at Fordham University, where she majored in journalism.

Feldman created the video to add Casey to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Faces of Distracted Driving, a campaign spearheaded by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood who has made distracted driving a top priority.

LaHood is in favor of passing a federal law banning the use of handheld mobile devices while driving, as well as making this a primary offense. In favor of LaHood, 89% of Consumer Reports survey respondents favor distracted driving legislation.

While we do see that Texting while driving is becoming a major issue, it is evident that our legislation, as well as our media campaigns have made a positive impact on driving habits. Of the other respondents who said they changed their driving habits, 24% have done so because they either witnessed, was involved in, or new someone who was involved in an accident with a distracted driver. Whatever the reason, people are slowly changing their driving habits for the better. Let’s just hope that the next report brings more of those behavior changes due to legislation and media campaigns, and less resulting from first hand experiences.

For more information on Driver and Consumer Safety, please visit the Consumer Reports website at www.consumerreports.org