Each year, thousands of lives are spared on U.S. highways because federal safety standards have mandated that manufacturers build safer vehicles. But many more lives will be saved when drivers pay closer attention to what they're doing when they're behind the wheel.
Last week Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood noted a decline in traffic deaths related to driving while distracted by other activities, such as using a cell phone, eating or personal grooming. In 2009, distracted-driving deaths dipped 6 percent compared with the previous year to 5,474, or about 16 percent of all U.S. highway fatalities.
LaHood correctly identified distracted driving as an epidemic that must be eliminated, especially among young drivers. Automobile manufacturers can do only so much. Even the safest vehicle can kill if the driver is impaired or distracted.