On The Serious and Preventable Issue of Distracted Driving

05/26/2010 03:15 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Jennifer L. Smith Co-founder of, an advocacy group against distracted driving

Richard Grenell made a serious error in his post 'Oprah Is Tougher' by belittling those of us who have lost family members to distracted driving. It is a serious and preventable problem, worthy of the attention of our highest government leaders.

When my mother, Linda Doyle, was struck and killed by a young man driving while talking on a cell phone, she wasn't just the victim of an American problem. In all corners of the globe, the use of electronics is on the rise. With 600 million passenger cars on the road today and 4.6 billion cell phone subscriptions worldwide, drivers talking and texting behind the wheel is a significant and growing public safety threat.

I was proud and grateful to stand at the United Nations with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. They recognize that traffic deaths are a leading cause of death around the world -- and something we can solve.

By 2030, the World Health Organization projects that traffic crashes will become the fifth leading cause of death worldwide, up from ninth place, its current ranking. The Global Road Safety Partnership estimates that driver behavior is responsible for up to 90 percent of all accidents.

The bottom line is that road crashes claim 1.3 million lives each year. That's one death every 30 seconds.

Last week's call for action is closely aligned with the First Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety held in Moscow last November and with the UNGA resolution 64/255 'improving road safety' which was presented by Russia. The General Assembly proclaimed 2011 to 2020 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety. The goal: to stabilize and eventually reduce the number of deaths and injuries.

During its adoption, many representatives spoke on the floor bearing witness to the largely preventable tragedies resulting from road accidents around the world. Peru's representative said it was unjustifiable that more than a million people around the world were killed in traffic accidents each year.

As Secretary LaHood and Ambassador Rice stated in a recent op-ed on AOL News, "Distracted driving affects us all -- people of every age group and background, in countries big and small, in economies developed and developing."

Jennifer Smith is the founder and president of FocusDriven, the first anti-distracted driving advocacy organization in the United States. Visit their website at