Everyone Hang Up and Drive

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    D.C. police were camped out at New York Avenue and Ninth Street in Northwest Tuesday morning pulling over driver after driver for violating the city's hands free while driving law, which the U.S. Secretary of Transportation said he wants to see go national. It's also part of the focus for today's Distracted Driving Summit, hosted by the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington.

    More than 5,000 people were killed and almost a half million injured due to distracted driving last year.

    "This is a real epidemic because everybody has a cell phone," said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. "Everyone thinks they can use them wherever, including behind the wheel of a car, and we just need to convince people you can't be safe when you have a cell phone or blackberry in your hand and driving."

    Today, safety advocates, law enforcement, industry reps and crash victims are coming together in an effort to find a solution to the ongoing problem.

    Maryland and Virginia have all enacted bans on texting while driving. Highway safety advocates say the laws need to go further, David Schultz reported for WAMU 88.5.

    LaHood said cell phones are just one of the things that can distract.

    He acknowledges enforcing these new laws would be difficult, but LaHood said people also thought enforcing drunken driving laws would be difficult.

    "People said, 'We'll never get drunk drivers off the road,'" he said. "In the old days, our friends in law enforcement would call a cab, give somebody a ride home, let them drive home. Today that doesn't happen."

    LaHood suggested high-profile enforcement campaigns to show drivers the consequences of texting while driving, WAMU 88.5 reported.