Only Fines Will Get Drivers Off the Phone: Experts

Conference tells Transportation Department to get tough
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2009 8:23 AM CDT
Drivers tend to ignore toothless admonitions about safety, like this billboard seen in Indianapolis, Sept. 17, 2009.   (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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(Newser) – If the Department of Transportation wants to curb distracted driving, it’ll have to do more than ask nicely, concluded experts at last week’s conference on the issue. Previous efforts to curb drunk driving and promote seat belt safety have proven that drivers don’t respond without the threat of punishment. “There’s no evidence whatever that responsible-driving campaigns work,” the director of MADD told the conference.

That was the only real consensus that emerged from the conference, which produced few concrete proposals, the Washington Post reports. “What works is high-visibility enforcement,” said the chairman of the Governors Highway Safety Association, an ex-state trooper. That’s a big distinction between that and reality: Though 18 states already have laws against driving and phoning, some are so watered down that police rarely bother to enforce them.