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The members of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) are state highway safety coordinators who provide and share data with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Part of the NHTSA’s mission is to monitor the trends in traffic safety across the US. Barbara Harsha, executive director of GHSA, believes that Congress needs to do more to discourage teen driving accident fatalities because during the first six months of 2011, teen traffic fatalities increased after a period when “teen deaths and overall highway fatalities have been in steady decline.” The jump in teen deaths worries Harsha and the GHSA.

Harsha wants Congress to provide financial incentives to states to get teenagers to use safety belts. She believes “Congress should fund distracted-driving efforts aimed at teen drivers,” [1][1] as more teenagers die in automobile accidents than any other way. U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently called distracted driving “an epidemic on America's roadways.”

According to DOT’s distracted driving website,, young people are among the most likely to text and talk on cell phones while behind the wheel, and people who text using their cell phones while driving are 23 times more likely to have an accident than people who don’t. Using cell phones while driving in some states is now illegal, and powering down cell phones while driving continues to be recommended, but getting teens to buy-into the use of safety belts and the non-use of their phones is no easy task.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has been involved in campaigning against distracted driving since 2009, with public service announcements displaying slogans like "One Text or Call Could Wreck It All,” “Stop the Texts, Stop the Wrecks!” or “Texting and Driving Don’t Mix” and has organized events and challenges such as, “No Phone Zone” events for teens. Harsha believes that more public awareness campaigns directed toward teen’s use of safety belts are needed and financial incentives to states would help achieve this.

In the coming months, many lawyers nationwide, including this one, are attempting to educate teens (and adults) about the hazards of distracted driving. It is no secret that texting and emailing while operating a motor vehicle are the primary culprits for many teen accidents, injuries, and fatalities. For more information on these educational projects, visit the following websites: and

[1][1] “Teen deaths in car crashes climb”, Halsey, Ashley III. The Washington Post, February 17, 2012,

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