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Open Letter to Ray LaHood re Distracted Driving Summit (Bikers' Rights)

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OPEN LETTER TO RAY LAHOOD RE DISTRACTED DRIVING SUMMIT
Distracted Drivers Must Pay Attention or Pay the Price!
Release Number 0141

IronBoltBruce on Bikers Rights, Motorcyclists Rights, MRO From: IronBoltBruce [mailto:Bruce@LdrLongDistanceRider.com]
Sent: Saturday, August 22, 2009 11:39 AM
To: 'Ray.LaHood@dot.gov'
Cc: 'ritainfo@dot.gov'; 'dot.comments@ost.dot.gov'
Subject: Open Letter to Ray LaHood re Distracted Driving Summit

22 August 2009

The Honorable Ray LaHood
Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20590
202-366-4000 (tel)
202-366-2191 (fax)
Ray.LaHood@dot.gov; ritainfo@dot.gov; dot.comments@ost.dot.gov (email)

Ref: USDOT Distracted Driving Summit, 09/30/09-10/01/09
URL: http://www.rita.dot.gov/distracted_driving_summit/

Dear Mr. Secretary:

Motorcycling Endurance Riders
Bikers Rights, Motorcyclists Rights, Long Distance Motorcycle Riding

Distracted driving is turning our nation's roadways into killing corridors, and it is time for "Pay Attention or Pay the Price" to become more than a hollow slogan. If we are to stop the slaughter...

AMERICAN MOTORISTS WHO ENGAGE IN DISCRETIONARY DISTRACTIONS MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE HARM THEY CAUSE.

-- By "American motorists", I mean (a) all who share our roads via two wheels, four or more; and (b) regardless of age, experience, license class, nationality or other arbitrary distinction.

-- By "discretionary distractions", I mean all activities in which a motorist might elect to engage that are known or might reasonably be expected to impair or detract from their ability to drive safely, including but not limited to cell phone conversations or texting, grooming or applying cosmetics, and eating behind the wheel.

-- By "held accountable for the harm they cause", I mean more than being ticketed for failure-to-yield every time they turn left without looking and murder a motorcyclist. I mean being required to pay restitution for the loss, damage or injury caused by their election not to pay attention. And I mean taking away their license and their freedom when their decision to drive distracted results in the injury or death of innocent people.

Legally banning the distractions would likely work about as well and last about as long as Prohibition. And laws that penalize only teens or truckers for texting, or prohibit only cell phone conversations via hand-held devices, are "feel good" half-measures difficult to enforce and easy to ignore. It is not so difficult, however, to determine if a driver causing an accident was texting, talking on a cell phone, eating a cheeseburger or painting their nails at the point of impact. And if the penalties for causing an accident while engaging in discretionary distractions are severe, they are not likely to be ignored.

And what should those penalties be? Any Internet search engine will provide you with numerous references to studies indicating that driving while distracted is just as dangerous if not more so than driving while impaired from alcohol or drugs. And since driving while distracted and driving while impaired are both discretionary activities with equivalent social costs, should they not carry equivalent legal penalties?

Severe DUI/DWI penalties have not eliminated drunk driving, of course. But according to MADD.org, since 1980 alcohol-related traffic fatalities have decreased nearly 50 percent. That is largely due to the deterrent effect of significantly increasing the penalities associated with causing an accident while driving drunk, coupled with an impactive barrage of related PSAs [and driver education programs]. Mounting a similar campaign against distracted driving, it seems, would yield similar results.

I ask that you please forward this letter to all the participants in your upcoming Distracted Driving Summit.

Speaking strictly for myself and no other individuals or organizations,

IronBoltBruce

Bruce@LdrLongDistanceRider.com
Author and Publisher, LdrLongDistanceRider.com
Co-Moderator, Bruce-n-RC's Biker Forum
Mile Eater Gold Member, Iron Butt Association (IBA)
Sustaining Member, Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF)
2009 Chairman's Circle, American Motorcyclist Association (AMA)

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