Demonizing distracted driving

The debate about driver distraction is about more than technology, says David Strickland, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Speaking on a panel at the International Consumer Electronics Show, Strickland outlined government research efforts to help curb driver distraction.

They include IntelliDrive, an effort by a coalition of auto companies, governments and trade associations to figure out how vehicle-to-vehicle communications, also known as V2V, can make roads safer.

But don't forget the human factor, Strickland said.

"We believe this technology has enormous potential to save thousands of lives in the long term, but at the end of the day, you have to realize that crash-avoidance technology can only go so far," he said. "It's the responsibility of the driver to keep his or her attention on the driving task."

And a little old-fashioned stigmatizing apparently wouldn't hurt.

"I'm looking forward to the day," Strickland added, "that distracted driving is as demonized a behavior as drinking and driving."

You can reach Leslie J. Allen at