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72–387 PS











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MAY 9, 2001

Printed for the use of the

Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure


DON YOUNG, Alaska, Chairman

THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin, Vice-Chair
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
STEPHEN HORN, California
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JOHN L. MICA, Florida
SUE W. KELLY, New York
JOHN R. THUNE, South Dakota
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
JIM DeMINT, South Carolina
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
ROB SIMMONS, Connecticut
HENRY E. BROWN, Jr., South Carolina
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SAM GRAVES, Missouri
MARK R. KENNEDY, Minnesota
BILL SHUSTER, Pennsylvania

NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of Columbia
BOB FILNER, California
FRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
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GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
BILL PASCRELL, Jr., New Jersey
JAMES P. McGOVERN, Massachusetts
TIM HOLDEN, Pennsylvania
BRIAN BAIRD, Washington
MICHAEL M. HONDA, California
RICK LARSEN, Washington



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Subcommittee on Highways and Transit

THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin, Chairman

HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOHN L. MICA, Florida
SUE W. KELLY, New York
JOHN R. THUNE, South Dakota
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
JIM DeMINT, South Carolina
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
ROB SIMMONS, Connecticut
HENRY E. BROWN, Jr., South Carolina
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SAM GRAVES, Missouri
BILL SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
  (ex officio)

ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
BOB FILNER, California
FRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
BILL PASCRELL, Jr., New Jersey
TIM HOLDEN, Pennsylvania
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MICHAEL M. HONDA, California
RICK LARSEN, Washington
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
JAMES P.McGOVERN, Massachusetts
BRIAN BAIRD, Washington
  (ex officio)



    Dingus, Dr. Thomas A., Director, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

    Edwards, Dr. Mark Lee, Managing Director, Traffic Safety, American Automobile Association
    Pena, Patricia, Advocates for Cell Phone Safety
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    Shelton, L. Robert, Executive Director, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
    Stutts, Dr. Jane C., Manager, Epidemiological Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Highway Safety Research Center, Chapel Hill, NC
    Wheeler, Tom, President, CEO, Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association
    Worrall, Dr. Harold W., P.E., Chairman, Board of Directors, Intelligent Transportation Society of America


    Berkley, Hon. Shelley, of Nevada
    Brown, Hon. Corrine, of Florida
    Costello, Hon. Jerry F., of Illinois
    Ferguson, Hon. Mike, of New Jersey
    Otter, Hon. Butch, of Idaho
    Rahall, Hon. Nick J., II
    Rehberg, Hon. Dennis, of Montana


    Dingus, Dr. Thomas A

    Edwards, Dr. Mark Lee
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    Pena, Patricia

    Shelton, L. Robert
    Stutts, Dr. Jane C
    Wheeler, Tom
    Worrall, Dr. Harold W


Edwards, Dr. Mark Lee, Managing Director, Traffic Safety, American Automobile Association:

Cell Phone Tasks, chart
In-cab Text Message Reading Tasks, chart
Drive Safer, Talk Later, pamphlet
Mobile Phone Safety Tips
Tips for Managing Distractions

Stutts, Dr. Jane C., Manager, Epidemiological Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Highway Safety Research Center, Chapel Hill, NC:

Attention Status of Drivers in Crashes, chart
What Distracts Drivers?, chart


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    ComCare Alliance, Dr. Jeffrey S. Augenstein, University of Miami, William Lehman Injury Research Center, and Dr. Richard C. Hunt, SUNY Health Science Center at Syracuse, Professor and Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, letter, May 8, 2001
    Consumer Electronics Association, comments


Wednesday, May 9, 2001
House of Representatives, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, Washington, D. C.

    The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:12 a.m. in room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Thomas Petri [chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.

    Mr. PETRI. The hearing will come to order. This morning's hearing will focus on driver distractions, especially distractions caused by electronic devices in automobiles.
    As we all know, we live in an era of fast-paced technological change. We have mobile phones that are small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, pagers the size of a wallet that can receive and send e-mail, powerful personal computers small enough to fit on the food tray of an airplane and electronic maps in cars that can tell us where we are and how to avoid traffic jams.
    In some cases, people have created mobile offices in their vehicles with computers, FAX machines, printers and phones. All that is missing is the coffee machine. I suspect it is not missing in every such setup.
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    All these inventions have great benefits. We can work more efficiently, keep in closer touch with our families and use them to summon help in dangerous or emergency situations.
    However, there is also a potential downside to these devices if they are misused. A driver punching buttons on a navigation device, dialing a phone or even watching TV in heavy traffic or inclement weather is going to react less effectively in emergency situations.
    It isn't just these high tech gadgets that can cause these distractions. Who among us hasn't been behind a car that is weaving or speeding up or slowing down for no apparent reason, only to find that the driver is more interested in reading the paper than in watching the road?
    Just last week, the local paper, the Washington Post, ran an article about a driver who was actually flossing her teeth while using her elbows to steer. Another driver was reported strumming a banjo while behind the wheel.
    So, I am pleased to hold this hearing today so that we may hear from those who are actively involved in the issue of driver distraction. I hope the subcommittee will learn about the true nature and extent of the problem, what is being done to address this issue and perhaps what we are failing to do. At the very least, I hope this hearing will serve to highlight the importance of responsible driving and educate the public that while in the car, driver must be your number one priority.
    We will hear from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on their work in this area, from experts that have studied this problem, from representatives of the electronics industry on their efforts to encourage the safe use of their products and from safety advocates who are increasingly concerned about this apparently growing problem.
    I look forward to hearing from all of our witnesses this morning. I yield to the Ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, my colleague, Congressman Bob Borski.
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    Mr. BORSKI. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Let me thank you for calling today's hearing on the use of electronic devices in the automobile and their potential impact on highway safety.
    This issue has been in the news quite a bit lately. I think it is very important, Mr. Chairman, for our subcommittee which is charged with public safety, to take a good look at this.
    The causes of motor vehicle crashes are fairly complicated, but errors on the part of the driver are known to contribute to some 90 percent of crashes. I think on balance, there is fairly convincing evidence that the use of cell phones while driving does distract drivers and does increase the risk of crashes.
    Research has show, for example, that it is unsafe to driver and carry on a lengthy or complicated conversation on the phone. Trying to do both distracts the driver from the main task of driving the vehicle safely.
    Clearly, we need better data to quantify the scope of the problem. We don't know how many accidents occur as a result of using cell phones while driving because we don't collect sufficient information or the data that we collect is in error.
    Plainly put, people involved in accidents may be less than candid if asked, ''Did cell phone use contribute to the accident?''
    Without accurate information on the scope of the problem, it would be difficult for legislative bodies to determine the best course of action. Whatever the size of the cell phone problem, we can say with some assurance that the problem is growing.
    A recent survey by the Insurance Research Council shows a declining percentage of cell phone users who admit to using their cell phones while driving. That is good news. But cell phone ownership is growing at a faster rater, meaning the use of cell phones while driving among the total population is also increasing. That is bad news.
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    We need to reverse this trend if we hope to create a safer highway environment. This year, Mr. Chairman, a majority of State Legislatures are considering legislation to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Although none have become law, about a dozen cities and counties, primarily in the northeast, already have bans in place.
    Internationally, some two dozen countries also have bans of one kind or another.
    As to our subcommittee's role, I come into this hearing with an open mind, Mr. Chairman. While I feel it is important for us to recognize the benefits of cell phone use in the car, such as reporting emergencies, let us remind all of us who are here today that we need to learn also from tragedies related from cell phone use in a car, such as the one experienced by Patty Pena, who will testify later this morning.
    It is my belief that cell phone use while driving increases crash risk and adversely affects driver performance. Whether or not ideas such as hands-free or voice activated phones are the best solution to the problem, I think the jury is still out.
    I am convinced that we need better statistical information on the scope of the problem. Not enough data are being collected or the data that are being collected may be in error. What I think we have is a growing highway safety problem whose scope is not yet well defined. Yet, it is a problem we cannot afford to ignore.
    Once again, let me thank you, Mr. Chairman. I hope our witnesses can shed some light on these issues. I look forward to their testimony.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you. Do any other Members wish to make opening statements? If not, we will proceed to the first witness. I am pleased to welcome Mr. Bob Shelton who is the Executive Director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
    I would like to remind you, and you are an experienced witness, but just so it is a matter of the record, that the full statement is obviously part of the record. We you can restrict your oral summary of it to about five minutes.
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    Mr. SHELTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee.
    Mr. PETRI. I guess that time doesn't include the video.
    Mr. SHELTON. No. My statement will be approximately five minutes and then our video will be approximately three and a half minutes. So, we will try to keep below ten.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
    Mr. SHELTON. I do appreciate the opportunity to appear before you to testify on driver distractions, electronic devices in the automobile.
    NHTSA has been working hard on the issue of driver distraction in keeping with our statutory mission to prevent deaths and injuries from motor vehicle crashes.
    I would like to begin by giving a brief overview of our current understanding about driver distraction and then describe our past, present, and future research. To driver safety, a driver needs to pay full attention to the driving task. Even a momentary distraction can lead to a crash. The distraction can be caused by anything that draws the driver's attention away from the road.
    In 1996, we completed a study, which found that driver distraction in all of its various forms probably contributes to between 20 and 30 percent of all crashes. The exact contribution may never be known due to the difficulty of determining driver actions prior to a crash.
    There always have been distractions while driving, tuning a radio, eating, or tending to a child. Our problem now is to understand a new set of distractions associated with in-vehicle electronic devices, typically referred to as TeleMatics rapidly being developed by the electronics and automobile industry.
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    The devices that are receiving NHTSA's main attention are cell phones, route navigation systems and on-board computers that deliver personalized Internet-based information. The cell phone, in particular, has become a significant highway concern. Over 110 million people use cell phones in the United States, a number that is expected to continue to grow.
    A NHTSA survey completed in January of this year and scheduled for release this summer found that 54 percent of motor vehicle drivers in the United States usually have a cell phone in their vehicles or carry cell phones when they drive. Almost 80 percent of these drivers leave their cell phone turned on while driving. Seventy three percent report having talked on the phones while they are driving.
    These new technologies do have safety benefits. We know that cell phone users place over 98,000 emergency calls each day, many from their motor vehicles. Studies have shown that cell phones often reduce the emergency response times and actually save lives.
    In some respects, these new technologies may make it easier for people to drive more safely. For a number of years policy makers have been weighing the benefits of wireless technology in cars against a growing evidence, however, of their potential to increase driver distraction and the risk to highway safety. Although no State bans the use of cell phones in motor vehicles, since 1995, more than half of the States have considered various restrictions on the use of hand-held cell phones by drivers.
    So far this year, at least 27 States have considered various measures that address the use of cell phones and other technology in motor vehicles. Eleven local jurisdictions now prohibit drivers from using hand-held phones while driving.
    For almost a decade, NHTSA has been conducting research on the relationship between distractions and driving performance. Our efforts highlight both the complexity of measuring driver distraction and the difficulties involved in trying to establish a causal link between driver distraction and crashes.
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    Since 1991, using instrumented vehicles, the agency has been studying the relative demands of different types of systems, including audio system controls, navigation systems and cell phones. We have evaluated operational tests of several route navigation systems for safety. One study, published in 1996, was of a system that could not be programmed while the vehicles were in motion. The results of that study showed that when the system was locked this way there were no adverse safety consequences.
    In another on wireless communications completed by the agency in 1997, we investigated the safety of using cell phones while driving. This study analyzed survey, crash, anecdotal and research data. It concluded that the inattention and distraction created by the use of the cell phone while driving, while similar to that associated with other distractions, in some cases can increase the risk of a crash.
    Conversation, rather than dialing, appearing to be most associated with the crashes reviewed. However, the study also concluded that the data were insufficient to indicate the magnitude of any safety-related problem associated with using a cell phone wile driving.
    Last July we reported on driver performance when destinations were entered into route navigation systems while vehicles are in motion. We found that the use of a voice-activated system generally was less distracting than the visual manual systems in that radio tuning and cell phone dialing were less distracting than visual-manual destination entry. We also found that older drivers had much more difficulty using the visual-manual entry systems than did the younger drivers.
    However, for voice-activated systems, the older drivers did as well as younger drivers.
    Currently, we are conducting a study that continues our cell phone work under real world driving conditions, not on a test track. This study is comparing driver distraction as a function of hand-held versus hands-free cell phone. It includes different types of cell phones to compare their respective workload and distraction potential.
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    Another NHTSA study on the test track, which we are doing cooperatively with Transport Canada, is investigating the effects of voice technology on driving performance. One of the study's main objectives is to assess the distraction potential of manual versus voice-activated versions of such tasks as dialing a phone, tuning a radio and retrieving e-mail messages.
    Over a dozen news studies are planned by NHTSA over the next two years. Our future research will cover many issues and will use our new National Advanced Driving Simulator, which will become operational next month.
    Lastly, we are playing a leading role in the Department of Transportation's Intelligent Vehicle Initiative, a multi-agency program focused on using advanced technology to help drivers avoid crashes. One of the Intelligent Vehicle Initiative's primary goals is to ensure that in-vehicle technologies do not adversely affect safety.
    To supplement our research efforts and explore new directions, NHTSA completed three activities last year to identify gaps in knowledge about distraction and traffic safety. One was a public meeting, two was an Internet forum, and three was a series of workshops with experts on this subject.
    Three points in particular emerged from these activities. First, the in-vehicle electronic devices currently installed in motor vehicles are not being fully evaluated for their potential to cause driver distraction.
    Second, much additional research needs to be done. Third, data are lacking to define the extent and magnitude of driver distraction related crashes associated with in-vehicle electronic devices, a problem that should be addressed on an urgent basis.
    As a result of our information gathering, we are planning to undertake a number of tests. We are planning on continuing research to understand the factors that affect a driver's performance while using in-vehicle technologies.
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    We will work with industry to support the development of test procedures and guidelines that can be used to design equipment that minimizes driver distractions.
    We will pursue consumer and public information efforts assisted by our surveys to help convey the knowledge gained from our research to the public. We will monitor new in-vehicle technology to determine how well manufacturers have evaluated their impact on safety prior to their introduction into the marketplace. We will continue to encourage the development and deployment of new technologies that can address the safety problem caused by driver distraction and we are working with States and local agencies to include information about driver distraction on the crash reporting forms. On the last point, I want to emphasize the importance of improved data to determine whether particular technologies are contributing to crashes. This is a matter that will require additional efforts of all interested parties.
    Mr. Chairman, that concludes my statement. I would now like to show a video that highlights some of the driver distraction efforts I have discussed and the research NHTSA is going in this area.
    [Video shown.]
    That concludes my statement, Mr. Chairman. I will be glad to answer any questions.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
    Mr. Borski.
    Mr. BORSKI. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. Shelton, let me thank you for your testimony and for all the good work you are doing, the research you are doing in relationship to this particular problem.
    I guess my first question is: Is there enough data out there in the States so that you can give us a complete picture of what is happening? For instance, when an accident has occurred, is there an accident form that says ''was the cell phone in use or not'' and should there be?
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    Mr. SHELTON. The short answer is there is not enough data out there, Mr. Borski. Since 1998, we have been encouraging States to record distraction on their police accident reports. Currently, about 20 States do that. However, only a subset of those States break that down further to sources, such as cell phone use. So, the reality of the situation right now is that the data are not definitive and not adequate to truly opinion down the size of this problem.
    Mr. BORSKI. What should we do or what can we do about that? Do you have any recommendations?
    Mr. SHELTON. Well, we are continuing to work very hard with the States to get them to record this data. We are doing studies of our own using the data systems that the agency has available to us. But it is going to be hard. We are always have the issue that in some cases the drivers, after a crash, may not be fully honest in describing whether they were distracted or not.
    Mr. BORSKI. But we have encouraged the States in other areas; particularly what comes to mind is seatbelt use. That has been pretty effective. I don't know that we have enough data to answer these questions myself at this point in time. But is that possible to at least get the information? How do we get you the tools so that you can tell us how significant the problem is or isn't.
    Mr. SHELTON. We are certainly getting more States to record this data on their crash reporting forms. It would be very helpful to us. We think that more and more States are doing this, but the fact that we only have about 20 right now out of the total that are doing this is hindering our efforts.
    Mr. BORSKI. Let me ask you, you said in your testimony that your research found that the most hazardous type of activity associated with cell phone use was talking on the phone. The Japanese found that receiving a call was the most hazardous type of activity.
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    How do you reconcile the difference in the finding?
    Mr. SHELTON. Our research has shown that it is actually the distraction of the conversation, of talking on the phone, the mental distraction that is more likely to cause the risk.
    I am not sure what the situation is in Japan. Maybe because it is a more urbanized environment that the risk of reaching for the cell phone to answer it may be more of a problem in more urbanized settings. But, I honestly can't really explain the difference between those two.
    Mr. BORSKI. But you think, or I know studies have shown that the conversation, the length of it—
    Mr. SHELTON. It is more the conversation itself than dialing the phone or answering the phone. As we say, ''Hands free is not risk free.'' It is not simply a matter of dialing the phone. It is having this conversation and having your head be somewhere else other than focusing on your driving task.
    Mr. BORSKI. So that hands-free may not be a solution that is of any great value to us in your view at this point?
    Mr. SHELTON. At this point we don't have data that suggests that that is going to solve the problem.
    Mr. BORSKI. On page 10 of your testimony you say that NHTSA's website contains good information on distraction problems related to the use of cell phones. Unfortunately, staff tried to access that information yesterday but the links apparently didn't work.
    For the record, could you please provide information from your website that you would consider relevant to today's hearing?
    Mr. SHELTON. Yes, we will be glad to provide that to the committee, sir.
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    Mr. BORSKI.Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
    Mr. Horn.
    Mr. HORN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    I come from California. We have some blackouts, brownouts, and what-outs. One of the real dangers that showed up in these recent situations was that the signals, red, green, neutral, have created chaos. I wonder if we could think about getting one specialized bit of energy in the stoplights of urban America just like they use in hospitals, a generator, and get that wattage over to that light so that people can continue.
    Do you see any evidence of different crashes in these brownouts?
    Mr. SHELTON. I am not aware of any, sir, at this point in time. We will be glad to talk with the Federal Highway Administration about the possibility of dedicated power for stoplights.
    Mr. HORN. Yes, I had hoped we could do a study on that because there must be a lot of crashes that occurred.
    Mr. SHELTON. We will be glad to talk to them about that.
    Mr. HORN. I came in late, but I wondered if some of those gadgets that try to tell us where the driver is. I was in one of those cars recently. I was approaching San Jose, California, only when I flipped it on, it said, ''You are in Boise, Idaho.''
    So, I just wondered how adept this all is.
    Mr. SHELTON. They are not perfect yet. I actually borrowed one about a year and a half ago, sir, and was driving across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It showed me in the middle of the bay. Luckily, I wasn't.
    Mr. HORN. Well, thanks for what you are doing.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
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    Mr. Oberstar, do you have any comments?
    Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to congratulate you and Mr. Borski on getting together to hold this hearing. It is a lively subject of great interest on which there is not much consensus. There is a lot of anecdotal information, but it is important to explore the subject in the context of our committee jurisdiction and the hearing will be an important benchmark, I think, for the future.
    I have just one question, Mr. Shelton. There have been a number of States legislate on this issue of cell phone use and foreign countries that have done the same. Is there, in your analysis of the subject, a conflict between certain types of legislation and our Freedom of Speech Amendment to the Constitution?
    Mr. SHELTON. Well, sir, we haven't taken a position on the legislation at this point because our view is that it is premature. The data at this point do not justify the Department pushing either for legislation or against legislation in the States. So, it really hasn't gotten to that point from the department's perspective. We will be glad to look into that.
    Mr. OBERSTAR. It seems to me it is a question that we ought to examine because if we go very far down the road regulating speech, it becomes rather sticky.
    Mr. SHELTON. Yes, I think that is a valid concern.
    Mr. OBERSTAR. Speech at critical times, emergency, the necessity of dialing 911 or making some other emergency call while driving or receiving an emergency call while driving are questions that ought to be examined. Certainly, we have all experienced anecdotally the errant driver hanging on to the cell phone merrily chatting away and posing a hazard to others on the road.
    But just as recently as last night, I was driving with a colleague late in the evening. We were talking about this very hearing coming up today. Just at that moment ahead of us, in one of those small sports cars, was a very inattentive driver, wildly gesticulating and waving arms and hands and turning to the passenger to talk. He came within an inch of running into the curb, barely righted the vehicle, and almost turned it over correcting it.
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    I said, ''You know, that is worse than a cell phone.''
    Mr. SHELTON. Yes, absolutely, sir. Many of these laws, essentially all of them, I believe, provide exceptions for emergency use of the phone. So, even the localities that ban the use of hand-held cell phones in vehicles do allow the use of those phones when you are making an emergency call.
    As the data at this point, we think, are insufficient for the department to take a position on the legislation, we have not really gotten further into this free speech area.
    Mr. OBERSTAR. The cell phone clearly is not a toy. It is a means of communication. It can be extremely important in times of emergency. Neither is the car or the SUV or the truck a toy. It needs our full time and attention on the road. We need to be attentive and not distracted, whether it is by a cell phone or a passenger or the radio or daydreaming. That is two and a half tons of metal, in some cases, a ton, ton and a half of metal roaring down that highway.
    It can do an awful lot of good. It can do extraordinary, irreversible damage.
    Mr. SHELTON. We agree wholeheartedly. Our view is that when you are driving your attention should be focused 100 percent on the driving task. You should not be using devices that are going to distract you from that task.
    Mr. OBERSTAR. Maybe what we ought to do every couple of years is to require all drivers to go back for driver education a little bit and get a re-education awareness of their responsibility to others on the road, to themselves, to their families, while conducting this ton and a half or so of metal on the nation's highways.
    Mr. SHELTON. Yes, I think that might be a very good idea.
    Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
    Mr. Duncan.
    Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for holding this hearing.
    Mr. Shelton, I have some questions about some things that I am curious about. How would we enforce something like this if we did come in with some sort of ban of cell phones? I know the police tell us that they are already overworked or whatever. I just don't know whether we could set up a cell phone police? How would you figure that we could enforce something like this?
    Mr. SHELTON. I think it is very difficult to enforce, sir. I think maybe hand-held devices might be obvious when a police officer sees someone use it. But you have devices which are not hand-held, the ones which are voice-activated. Someone could be talking vigorously to that. They might be talking to themselves. They might be singing with the radio. It is sort of hard to enforce that.
    Mr. DUNCAN. Well, you have so many people who have them. I want to say that I do appreciate the Chairman and Mr. Borski calling this hearing because it is not only an interesting topic, it is an important one. You know, it is a difficult thing, though, because I know that if I had a family member who had been killed or seriously injured in a crash that was attributed to a cell phone, I would probably be leading a crusade against them, if at all possible.
    But as you pointed out in your film, there are so many other distractions, changing CDs, changing radio stations, tending to children, fiddling with clothes, putting on make-up, combing hair and distractions from things that occur outside the car.
    I know Tennessee is one of the small handfuls of States that you have mentioned that has broken down these accidents. The Tennessee Department of Safety has told us that in 1999 they had 40,000 crashes and only about one-tenth of one percent, 48, were attributable to cell phones or two-way radios.
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    I think most statisticians describe that as a statistically insignificant number. Have you seen any figures that would cause you to believe that that figure FE I know you said 20 to 30 percent are caused by distractions as a whole.
    Mr. SHELTON. Distractions in general, right.
    Mr. DUNCAN. Have you seen any figures that would differ from that one-tenth of one percent caused specifically by cell phones?
    Mr. SHELTON. I think AAA is going to discuss a survey they just did which has a slightly higher figure than that. But it is certainly a small subset of that 20 to 30 percent which is caused by cell phones.
    There is a lot of uncertainty in estimating this, because as I mentioned before, drivers may not be fully honest when they have crashes as to what distracted them. But it certainly is a smaller proportion of the total problem. That is what we are looking at, the total distraction issue, not focusing on cell phones alone. As you could see from our video, we are looking at navigation systems and CD changing and people eating in cars. We are really trying to look at the total picture and not just focusing on one individual technology.
    Mr. DUNCAN. I have a 22-year old daughter who a few years ago was hit by a woman who was pulling out of a McDonald's restaurant and eating a hamburger and was distracted by that. But, I know, too, that most people are kind of glad that their daughters or wives have cell phones with them in case their car breaks down late at night or there is some type of emergency.
    I remember one time my District Director and I were driving along and the car in front of us ran off the interstate and had an accident. We immediately got on the cell phone and called and got emergency help there, I think quicker than possibly it would have otherwise some.
    So, you know, there is good and bad. But I think it is very good that we have called this hearing because I think all of us need to draw as much attention to the fact as we can that people need to be more careful in using their cell phones when they are driving or when try distracted in any other way.
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    Thank you very much.
    Mr. SHELTON. Thank you.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
    Without objection, the Chairman of the full committee, Mr. Don Young, is recognized.
    Mr. YOUNG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to congratulate you and Mr. Borski for having this hearing.
    Following the lines of some of the questions that have been asked already of this witness, I have banned cell phones in this room. I think everybody understands they are a distraction. I don't appreciate it when they go off. Thank God, so far I haven't heard any today. I hope that we don't hear any. Just keep that in mind because sometimes people really get my ire up.
    One of the problems I have, and I agree, I do not like people talking on their cell phones. The most frustrating thing for me is to be behind a driver who is talking on a cell phone and wandering around the road.
    But on the other hand, I have seen ladies, the other day I saw one that was FE now get this FE she was putting lipstick on and doing her eye make-up and driving the car with her elbows. Now, that is a real trick. She was an excellent driver, as one who uses a cell phone should be.
    The only thing that bothers me, and I know there will be a witness later on that concerns me, Mr. Chairman. Is that if we did pass a law, there are already so many laws on the books, how would we enforce it?
    You know, if we had a way I could report somebody who was talking on a cell phone and they could give them a ticket, I think that might work. Ask Mr. Armey, we have cameras on the George Washington Parkway right now.
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    But the fact of the matter is, as distracting as they are, they do serve a purpose. I just wish there was a better training program or if someone is caught, issue a ticket against him if he is using the phone or she is using the phone.
    We have driver's ed. At that time should be stressed dramatically because most of the kids today have cell phones. They don't get their license if they have a cell phone and use it in the car. At least that starts training them right now.
    I think the hearing is good. It brings attention to this, I think, a very great distraction. But in reality, if we were to pass a law Federally, who would enforce it? Because we have Neserlin driving laws now on the books and most of the time they are not enforced.
    I again compliment you for the hearing. I am just concerned about where we are going to go with something like this because we already have so many laws on the books and they are not working.
    But myself, personal, I think they are a distraction. I think they do a disservice to the individual. I do think it takes a driver's mind off of the driving itself. It is not where your hands are all the time. Your elbows can be on the steering wheel, but if your mind is not on what you are doing, you are not a safe driver. We have seen those accidents.
    I happened to read the report yesterday that came out on the accidents and what they were caused from. Actually, cell phones are way down at the bottom of the list. Maybe they don't admit they were talking on it. But there are so many other distractions that occur.
    One last story, Mr. Chairman. I can remember when I was seven years old; I was in a car with my father. He was a smoker and self-rolled cigarettes. He happened to drop his cigarette between his legs. He was doing five miles an hour. He was looking for his cigarette doing five miles an hour and the siren went off.
    The officer accused my father of being a drunken driver. He never took a drink in his life. But I never forgot how distracted he was looking for his cigarette.
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    I just wish that everybody who drives would remember they should keep their eyes on the road.
    Mr. Chairman, I thank you for having these hearings. I don't have any further questions for the witness.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
    Mr. BARCIA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    I want to say that I was unable to be here for the beginning of the hearing because I am the Ranking Member of the Technology Subcommittee, which had a hearing scheduled simultaneously with the beginning of this one. But I want to thank the Chairman and the Ranking Member, of course, for calling this hearing.
    I think it is very timely. It is an issue that a lot of people are thinking about, concerned about what, if anything, the Federal government should do with regard to regulating behavior which occurs inside the vehicle. I know any of us who have spent an appreciable amount of time on the road in our own vehicles have witnessed behaviors that are very distracting from the driver's attention, such as eating food, grooming, reading in some cases, and a lot of other behaviors as well which distract from the attention of that driver toward the on-coming traffic and as they approach intersections which are very dangerous, of course.
    I would like to say that while this is a new administration and probably a lot of people have not been placed fully throughout the various agencies of the federal government, including NHTSA, I would encourage you, Mr. Shelton, to also seek input from the industry.
    I have been impressed recently with the amount of voluntary effort that the industry, the cell phone industry itself, is making in an attempt to educate cell phone users as to the danger of certain uses of the cell phone, how it can pose a threat or a distraction to the driver's attention and to hopefully work with consumer groups and industry groups, which, I think, have been very proactive in trying to encourage our drivers to be as safe as they can be.
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    As has been pointed out by just about every speaker on the subcommittee this morning, it is not just cell phone use.
    I have one other concern. Being from Michigan and having the big three auto makers based in my home State, I am aware also of the newer technologies and innovations such as the On Star navigational assistance program, which can be installed in the dashboard of any new vehicle.
    I believe drivers in Michigan can contact a switchboard down in North Carolina and they will give them precise directions to the location to which they are going.
    So, with these newer technologies and the fact that in many cases these technologies will not involve hand-held phones or equipment, what would the agency's position be relative to do you think that these newer technologies which are helpful to consumers should be stopped or perhaps made illegal or do you want to distinguish between just carrying on a conversation with a microphone that is installed in the dashboard versus the hand-held?
    Mr. SHELTON. Right now we are actually doing some comparative research in looking at the distraction one, say hand-held devices versus voice-activated devices. So we are looking at that issue to see whether there is a difference in the performance.
    With regard to your provide comments, Congressman, about working with the industry, we do have a number of efforts going on with them on this very subject.
    We have, through our Intelligent Vehicle Initiative Program, we have a Crash Avoidance Matrix Program, which is a three-year program with the industry to look at some of the characteristics of these systems and design them appropriately to minimize driver distraction.
    There is also a more near-term effort by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers looking at distraction potential of a number of these devices. We are working with them on that.
    In addition, we had public meetings last summer to involve everyone in this process, to give the public, experts from consumer groups, industry and academia an opportunity to give us their views to help shape our research agenda on this subject.
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    Mr. BORSKI. Well, thank you very much.
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
    Mr. Mica.
    Mr. MICA. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    I guess some of the Members have relayed some of their anecdotal experiences. My only experience in being in a serious crash was with a young lady putting make-up who ran us off the road and we ended up in an embankment some years ago.
    I am a little bit concerned about Federal legislation or Federally enacting legislation to try to deal with some of these problems. I think we probably have a different role. Basically, the enforcement, Mr. Shelton, in all of these things, is left up to local and State authorities. Isn't that correct?
    Mr. SHELTON. Yes, it is, sir.
    Mr. MICA. We heard the provide Member talk about improvements in technology. I have tried one of those ITS vehicles and the navigation. I don't think I have ever been so distracted in my life as when I looked at one of those and tried to navigate. The console was down between us. Every time you look down you are distracted.
    We are putting Federal money into the development of these programs. Are we looking at possible window screen projection or some other things that don't divert attention?
    Mr. SHELTON. Yes, we are. We are looking at ways to design such devices to minimize the distraction, even something as simple as just moving it up higher on the dashboard can help address that issue.
    Mr. MICA. I notice, again, that cell phones again are way down, 1.5 percent of the distracted drivers had an accident or at least reported it. Adjusting the radio and cassette playing, things where we can have some say in the technology development or providing new breakthroughs in intelligent vehicles, this type of improvement is something that we might have more say in the development.
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    Do you feel that you are getting adequate cooperation from the industry to make the technological improves and advancements in the new cars, automobiles that are coming on line to deal with FE what is the core, probably 40 or 50 percent of the distractions and problems that cause accidents?
    Mr. SHELTON. Yes. We are trying to work with them on the development of new technologies and the best way to implement them to minimize distraction.
    Mr. MICA. Do you feel that your agency has adequate resources to pursue these technological developments and innovations?
    Mr. SHELTON. Yes, we do, sir.
    Mr. MICA. Thank you.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
    Mr. Pascrell.
    Mr. PASCRELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    For the past several months, many of us, on both sides of the aisle, have been considering introducing legislation in response to what I and many of my constituents perceive to be a public safety problem, distracted driving and cell phone use by drivers.
    Whether it is the New England Journal of Medicine or the anecdotal evidence that 43 percent of people admitted to speeding up to get away from a cell phone user who was driving erratically, this issue is one that causes concern.
    There are several municipalities in New Jersey that have either banned cell phone use by drivers or require drivers to use a hands-free device.
    I think that better than having town-by-town ordinances, which neither drivers nor the industry support, and most drivers would have to know when they are driving into a town whether there is such a law in that particular town, we do need States to take, I believe, the initiative and deal with the issue head on.
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    The question, of course, is how to best get the States involved in this. I think our focus here in Washington should be on making a concerted effort to educate the public to the real and perceived dangers of cell phone use while driving.
    I also think that continued independent studies and research, you mentioned some of them, is necessary to address these issues head-on. The latest automobile accident involving a celebrity will create greater awareness of the dangers of driving distractions.
    I am co-chair and founder of the Traumatic Brain Injury Task Force in the Congress. One million brain injuries in our by alone happen from car accidents. This is something we all need to address. I don't think there is public sentiment within the Congress to ban them. But what are we going to do about it?
    If we are going to rely on the industry to provide safety FE here is a half page ad by a particular company. This half page ad tells you the prices of what these phones cost, et cetera. This is a very competitive industry. Down in the right-hand corner, and if you were holding the paper, you could just about see it, it says, ''Safety, you are most important call.''
    I mean you would have to have almost a magnifying glass to see that.
    If this is what you call or anyone calls the industry stepping up to the plate, I want you to know, I don't think that. I think that if we are going to avoid demagoguing, then we need the industry to step up to the plate, as we can step up to the plate in terms of helping to educate the public as AAA does and a lot of the companies do. Some of the companies do that themselves.
    I would like your opinion on two things. One is, there are only two States in the union, Oklahoma and Minnesota, that require the police to report whether cell phones have been the cause of an accident. Would you support legislation to make that a universal requirement in the United States?
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    Mr. SHELTON. I am not sure we would support that. We have been encouraging States to record distraction on their police accident reports. About 20 of them now do that. Only a subset report cell phone on their reports.
    I think at this point we would not have a position on that particular proposal. We are looking at the total distraction problem, not just cell phones, but navigation systems, eating, as was pointed out, putting on make-up in cars. We are trying to look at the whole picture and not just focusing on one subset of the issue. The data is needed. The data is not adequate.
    Mr. PASCRELL. But we are not going to get the data unless the police in that State report such situations. Otherwise, we can't guess at it. How do you do that?
    Mr. SHELTON. We are working with the States to get more of them, preferably all of them, to record such data on their police accident reports.
    Mr. PASCRELL. So you think that is important?
    Mr. SHELTON. Yes, I think it is very important that we get better data on distraction and its magnitude in causing crashes.
    Mr. PASCRELL. Do you think that is something we should address?
    Mr. SHELTON. I am always reluctant to tell the Congress what they should or shouldn't address.
    Mr. PASCRELL. Everybody else does.
    Mr. SHELTON. I guess I am more modest, Congressman. I mean we are pushing it hard and certainly wouldn't hurt to have some push from the Congress, also.
    Mr. PASCRELL. I would seem to me that we would have a better handle on it if we knew the data. You know, we do have a few studies, which seem to be very pertinent. This data would be critical to coming to some conclusions.
    Mr. SHELTON. Yes.
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    Mr. PETRI. Mr. Pascrell, I am sorry, the five minutes are up. We have a large number and it is unfair. We will give you a second round, if you would like.
    Mr. Thune.
    Mr. THUNE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. Shelton, I appreciate your testimony this morning. In my State of South Dakota we are a little bit unique in that we have a lot of distances that separate us. Cell phones actually come in quite handy on a lot of occasions, sometimes just to keep people from falling asleep driving back and forth across our State. So, it is a little different set of circumstances than maybe others might be dealing with in some of the congested areas that we have around the country in some of our bigger cities.
    Maybe you addressed this previously, but how many States, locations, locals right now have some sort of laws or regulations that govern use of cell phones in one way or another?
    Mr. SHELTON. There are three States that have restrictions or some sort of requirement on cell phones that I am aware of: California, Massachusetts and Florida. I think California requires for rental cars that you have instructions on using the cell phone. Florida, I think, requires that one ear not be covered so you can hear what is going on around you. I forget the Massachusetts requirement off the top of my head. None of them actually say, ''Ban hand-held cell phones'' or anything that restrictive.
    There are a number of localities, I believe it is around a dozen, which ban the use of hand-held cell phones.
    Mr. THUNE. Do you think that you are agency, that NHTSA needs more legislative authority to regulate those types of electronic devices? Is that something that you see?
    Mr. SHELTON. Right now we do not feel that we need more authority. Our emphasis right now is on a research phase to better understand the magnitude of this problem and the consequences of it. We are at this point not at the point where we feel we need the legislative authority to address it.
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    I will point out that NHTSA does not have the authority to address, for example, hand-held phones that are not connected to the car. That is not a piece of motor vehicle equipment. We do not have the authority to address it. It has to be part of the car for us to have authority to address it.
    Mr. THUNE. As far as collecting the data, you talk a lot about it and data obviously would be very critical in trying to make good decisions about this. Do the States and local agencies collect that sort of data, too?
    Mr. SHELTON. Some of them are. About 20 States right now are coding ''distraction'' on their police accident reports. Some of them break it down further, down to, say, cell phone use or non-cell phone use.
    Mr. THUNE. Obviously, currently, right now, from an enforcement standpoint, that is something that happens at the local level, but does it make sense from your point of view to have some set of Federal laws or regulations that might pertain or apply to cell phone use?
    Mr. SHELTON. Right now we would believe that that would be premature. We are still in research trying to understand the problem. We believe it is premature to push for Federal legislation in this area.
    Mr. THUNE. I appreciate your answers to those questions. Again, I think at least from my point of view that there are a lot of differences around the country. One of the things that we discovered in my State is that when Washington legislates or issues regulations that apply in a one-size-fits-all method, it really isn't very applicable in some parts of the country. Ours is certainly an exception, I think, in many respects just because of the distances. I would guess that Mr. Rehberg in Montana and others places like that would also share that point of view.
    I appreciate your testimony. As we get more data that is helpful in analyzing this situation, I know we would welcome it because we want to make sure that our highways are safe and that people have an opportunity to get to and from where they are going in a safe way.
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    Mr. SHELTON. Thank you.
    Mr. THUNE. Thank you.
    Mr. PETRI. Ms. Tauscher.
    Ms. TAUSCHER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Hello, Mr. Shelton, thank you for being here.
    As a centrist Democrat from California, I can tell you that I want a federal government that is smaller and smarter and leaner, but not meaner. I believe that the federal government's role here is pretty clear, as many of my colleagues have alluded to.
    I think we should do everything we can to create very strong incentives to get more than 20 States to collect and certify credible data on what these incident reports are saying and what is happening on the roads.
    I can tell you that I was the worst driver I could possibly be when my premature infant daughter was sitting in the back seat and I was trying to driver her to the doctor. There was very little technology involved, but I was trying to focus.
    But in California where we consider ourselves to be the cradle of the new economy, we are big technology mavens. I think that it is important, if we can just refocus for a second. Would you say that technology advances have greatly improved the opportunity for people to driver safely in this country?
    Mr. SHELTON. Vehicle technology as a whole, certainly, because vehicles are far safer than they used to be.
    Ms. TAUSCHER. Many of the technologies that are frankly part of the things that worry us about bad drivers who are bad drivers whether they eating McDonald's or handing their kid a bottle in the back seat or changing their CDs are just basically about personal responsibility.
    There is not a lot, frankly, that we can do in the short term until we have much more advanced technology to mitigate what bad drivers are going to do.
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    Mr. SHELTON. It is certainly tough. I think educational efforts and hearings like this, which call attention to the problem, get people to understand that these are distractions and these cause risks. They can cause crashes. I know it has affected my behavior. I know it has affected behavior of many people I know.
    Ms. TAUSCHER Yes. The thing that concerns me is that we find a balance between what we know is distracting behavior that is caused by advances in technology and the benefits that we know are accruing to people on the roads and working families all over this country and, frankly, all over the world by technology and that we are kind of caught in this place between where we have had enough advances to mitigate the little distractions that we see caused by technology.
    I would really hope that we could focus on the benefits of technology. Certainly, I think we are all sympathetic to families that have had injuries and fatalities due to people on cell phones and things like that.
    But I would hope that we could really focus on making sure that we talk about distractions generally, that we talk about the need for personal responsibility, that we need to have better training, that we need to have people focus. And that we could, as a federal government, support the States with very strong incentives, to do better data collection so that we actually have better information so that we can make some better choices.
    Mr. SHELTON. Yes, that is why we are focusing on distraction as a whole rather than focusing on one individual portion of that.
    Ms. TAUSCHER. Exactly. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
    Mr. Simmons.
    Mr. SIMMONS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Welcome, Mr. Shelton. I come from Connecticut and I was in the Connecticut General Assembly. We considered legislation on cell phones. Many of the same issues that have been raised this morning were raised in the course of that debate.
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    The outcome was that Connecticut did not, in fact, pass significant legislation regarding cell phone use for a number of reasons. First of all, on the First Amendment issue, the communication issue, it was felt that the basic standard on speech would apply, that safe speech is protected and dangerous speech is not. If you are speaking on the cell phone and it creates a hazard, then you should be susceptible under the reckless driving statute to being stopped, arrested and ticketed.
    But essentially your right, and this goes back to Zachariah Chaffee and free speech, your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins. Your right to use a cell phone ends where my bumper begins, if you will. If you can do it safely, then there is no problem there from a free speech standpoint. But if you cannot, then you are subject to regulations and arrest.
    But it also raised the whole issue of patterns of life for Americans. Americans are spending more time in their cars. They are spending more time in traffic jams in their cars. So they are communicating more from their cars.
    Maybe what we really need to do is take a proactive view of this device and these vehicles and these patterns of activity and encourage the car industry to put imbedded systems for communication in cars and encourage the cell phone industry to develop technologies for voice recognition so that you don't have to dial the instrument. You can simply speak.
    Certainly the voice recognition technology is there. I dictate a lot of letters. I call up on an 800 number and I dictate the letter and a machine recognizes my voice and the words that I put out over the telephone lines and it comes out in a text form.
    We have computers that will go on if you say ''go on.'' We have phones that will dial home if you say ''Call home.'' If you say, ''call the office, call John, call Joe.''
    If we could be proactive and look to the future and use the Federal dollars to develop some of these resources so that they could be taken on by the industry, maybe this approach would, in the long run, be more safe.
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    My experience is that new technologies get into cars through the cigarette lighter. A few years ago you would have a stereo system, a tape system, in your car and you would operate it through the cigarette lighter.
    Then we went to CDs where CDs in cars would be powered by the cigarette lighter. At each stage of the game, they would become embedded into the car and offered by the dealers. Now we are at a point where my cell phone operates out of a car through the cigarette lighter.
    I guess what I would encourage you and your agency to do is to take it to the next step. Let us accept the fact that there will be communication in vehicles for a variety of reasons and that most of those are actually pretty good reasons. So, what we need to do is we need to reduce the distractions. We need to reduce the reckless aspects because people are being hurt by the misuse of these devices and see if we can use your office and our dollars to bring some of these technologies to the marketplace.
    Do you have any comments on that?
    Mr. SHELTON. Yes. Well, we have a couple of projects going on in that very area that we are trying to assess these technologies, say the hand-held ones versus voice-activated ones. They are not just for cell phones, but also for navigation systems and things like that. So, we are in the process right now of looking at that. As our research is completed, we will get it out. We think that will help manufacturers design better systems and we think that will help consumers better operate them and understand possible distraction risk from operating such systems.
    So, we are looking at that very issue right now.
    Mr. SIMMONS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just in closing, I am sure we will hear some testimony, I have read the written testimony. We all have anecdotal tales of somebody who has been critically injured or even killed due to reckless driving. We are all concerned about that. It has happened to all of us in our own families or in our own communities. I don't mean to undermine that at all with my comments.
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    But I do think we are high tech people. We are a people that like to communicate and need to communicate. It is part of our culture. And I think we have the resources to make it safer. Thank you.
    Mr. PETRI. Mr. Carson.
    Mr. CARSON. If I could indulge you and defer to Mr. Matheson to my left, since I just arrived, I would appreciate that very much.
    Mr. PETRI. Mr. Honda is next, I think.
    Mr. HONDA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. CARSON. Okay.
    Mr. HONDA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    I apologize for being late for your testimony. What I may ask or comment on may have been touched upon. That which I have heard up to now is interesting. I don't think I need to repeat any of those.
    I do agree that a lot of these issues are around personal responsibility, ethics and etiquette, if you will. Buy I think that somewhere along the line, we do have to draw a policy or a position where we are going to require our citizens a level, a standard of behavior behind the wheel.
    Certainly, I have been guilty of being distracted myself, using a phone or talking to someone else in the car, for that matter. So, I will be looking forward to your suggestions in terms of a policy direction.
    The thing that disturbs me right now, though, is you are saying that you are focusing on distraction as a category. What I have not heard you say FE you have spoken also about 20 States that have some requirements to do accident reports and asking for information relative to distractions FE but you didn't say anything about whether you go to the next step and ask the specifics, whether it is a checklist or whether it is a comment, please explain.
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    Don't you think that kind of data is important in your research?
    Mr. SHELTON. Yes. If we could get more data from the States on that, that would be useful. I am trying to encourage that as much as possible.
    Mr. HONDA. What is the point of your group, then, in terms of moving forward this issue and trying to gather more data?
    Mr. SHELTON. On the State data? I mean, we are doing several things.
    Mr. HONDA. From your group.
    Mr. SHELTON. We are trying to get better data to understand the magnitude of the problem out there. Then we are doing separate research on the issue of assessing for these individual technologies what are the consequences for the individuals, so to speak.
    Our main data-gathering, though, our main effort, we are using our own data systems because we do, for example, about 5,000 crash investigations a year, just the agency. So we are looking at those data systems to better understand the distraction issue.
    In those crashes, we send out trained crash investigators to those so we have a better handle on the causes of this crash than what you get, say, from a police accident report. We are also trying to work with the States to get better data on the police accident reports.
    Mr. HONDA. So, what is it you need from us to get accurate data that would minimize the use of human resources at your level and actually get accurate data from the field? This is not going to get any easier. It is going to get more complicated.
    I say that because we are moving into the area of e-commerce and m-commerce. We are more mobile. Whether we are walking or driving, you know, we are going to be engaged with a personal device that is going to allow us to do a lot of things at once. So, I think we should anticipate that scenario.
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    What is it that you need from us to get more accurate information?
    Mr. SHELTON. We don't have a specific request for the committee, but certainly if the committee could encourage States in some way or another to better collect this data, it would be very useful to the agency.
    Mr. HONDA. Okay. Thank you.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
    Mr. Brown, do you have any questions?
    Mr. BROWN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Thank you, Mr. Shelton, for being with us today and sharing some insights into a problem I think is probably overblown in some sense, but it is certainly there.
    I know the industry as a whole has been able to address major problems as they come along, be it the seatbelt, be it the side airbag or the forward airbags. So, I think there is technology that is there that ought to be put in place for any crashing or driving too close or driving erratically, some kind of a warning signal.
    It seems like those items could be brought forth rather than trying to curtail. I know when the radio was first put in, they said, you know, all that music and stuff would distract you, you couldn't operate the vehicle, or the cigarette lighter, you know, you stop to light the cigarette, so we have come through those things.
    In fact, in South Carolina, I am not sure in how many other States, Mr. Simmons alluded to it in his State, but we have a reckless driving statute already. It says: ''Any person who drives any vehicle in such a manner as to indicate either a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.''
    It seems like that statute is already on the books in South Carolina. I would think that the issue of safety certainly has some nationwide ramifications. But I think enforcement has got to be on the State level.
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    I would be curious to know from you if there are other States with similar statutes.
    Mr. SHELTON. Yes, there are a lot of States which have negligent driving statutes which can be applied to situations like this.
    Back to the beginning of your statement where you talked about advanced technologies, we are addressing a lot of those through our intelligent vehicle initiatives such as rear-end collision avoidance systems, warning systems, intelligent cruise control. So, we believe that advanced technologies address a lot of these distraction issues.
    Mr. BROWN. Well, I appreciate your being proactive because I believe that all the pluses for having some kind of communication device inside the automobile is something, I don't think is ever going to go away. I think it is something that is going to be with us.
    I appreciate your looking into it.
    Mr. SHELTON. Thank you, sir.
    Mr. PETRI. Mr. Rahall.
    Mr. RAHALL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I ask unanimous consent that my opening statement be inserted in the record at the appropriate point.
    Mr. PETRI. Without objection.
    Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Chairman, I think we are in the classic Catch-22 situation here, if you will. We have massive traffic congestion due to numerous driver distractions and we have numerous driver distractions due to massive traffic congestion.
    I have received calls from people on cell phones, ''Hey, I am sitting here in traffic with anything to do. I picked up the phone. What is going on?''
    Come on. It is very important we recognize the difference between irresponsible use of the cell phone and responsible use and/or emergency use, the latter two of which are certainly acceptable.
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    In my opinion, there is little difference between irresponsible cell phone use while driving and driving while intoxicated. As you know, Mr. Chairman, in TEA-21 we had an incentive grant program for States to enact as .08 BAC. This was modified in the appropriations bill.
    We are also aware of many locations across the country enacting cell phone bans while people are driving, with the exception, of course, for emergency use.
    My question to you, Mr. Shelton, would be do you think an incentive grant program would be helpful? Would it be successful in moving localities toward considering bans or restrictions on cell phone use while driving?
    Mr. SHELTON. Congressman, right now we would not support that. We are in the research phase to better understand the magnitude of the problem and the risk. So, we think it is premature to be pushing States or localities to adopt such laws.
    Mr. RAHALL. Let me ask you another question and this goes to what I said in my opening statement about driver distraction being part of the driver's education curriculum throughout the country so that young people will realize the dangers of distractions before they get their driver's license.
    I would ask you what work NHTSA is doing with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators to increase driver distraction awareness? How much money as in your fiscal year 2001 budget? You may have said this already.
    I apologize; I missed your submitted testimony. What is in your fiscal year 2002 budget request to foster outreach and education on driver distraction and get more information into driver training manuals through the driver licensing process?
    Mr. SHELTON. I am afraid off the top of my head I don't know the answer to that, Congressman. But we will be glad to get that information to you. We think it is very important for the agency to be taking its research in this area and translating that in the consumer information and education.
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    We will be glad to answer your specific question about our work with the AAMVA.
    Mr. RAHALL. I appreciate that. You don't have the budget figures either?
    Mr. SHELTON. No, I don't. I am sorry, sir. But we will be glad to provide that.
    Mr. RAHALL. All right. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
    Representative Rehberg.
    Mr. REHBERG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize for being late as well. Without objection, I would like to have my opening statement inserted in the record.
    Mr. PETRI. Without objection.
    Mr. REHBERG. I don't want to beat a dead horse. I do want to thank Congressman Thune for recognizing that the majority of the drivers have to sleep across South Dakota until they witness the splendor of the big sky country when they get to Montana. We will put that in the record as well.
    One of the things that I am struck with, of course, being from Montana, you all recognize that we were the last State to adopt a speed limit. There was a very good reason for that. It was stuffed down our throats in a prior administration back in the late 1970s as a conservation method. It is something that we resisted.
    Up until a couple of years ago, we had a reasonable and prudent responsibility behind the wheel. We found out very quickly that there is no such thing as reasonable and prudent when you have somebody who has a lack of common sense sitting behind the wheel.
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    So, no matter how much data you gather, I think you are always going to come to the same conclusion. There are some drivers that can be distracted and still drive and there those that cannot be distracted and still drive.
    So, I hope as you go back and continue to collect the data, and as I look through this testimony, I see that Montana is one of those States that is collecting data. That is not correct. Having been former Lt. Governor, we did not do that. We don't have any intention of doing that within the State of Montana at this point.
    But what we do want to do is we want to see that the federal government does not continue to try and legislate common sense on States like Montana. So, I hope that you just won't go back to your agency and continue to try and gather data for the specific purposes of trying to come to a one-size-fits-all solution that fits America because in many cases, for those of us would have represent rural America with large expanses of open prairie and as a result large expanses of open highways, that we don't always want to have to try and fall under the very careful categories that are created for us by those on the eastern side of the Potomac.
    Mr. SHELTON. I want to assure you, Congressman, that we are collecting data to understand the problem, not to support any particular policy in this area.
    Mr. REHBERG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
    Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson. Do you have a question?
    Ms. JOHNSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    I apologize for being late as well. There are a lot of conflicts in schedules this morning.
    Let me first comment on the gentleman that just finished. That was early 1970s. I was in the Texas House of Representatives and we had to pass it. For Texas to have passed speed limit legislation to reduce it was quite painful. But we did it, until recently.
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    Where there are laws, what kind of sanctions and how frequent are people caught? It seems to me that people are going to use them. I think we can update the technology to accommodate it more, as what has been stated. But how are we punishing people who just use telephones while they are driving if they are not in an accident? We have had some fatalities, I know, because I had a dear friend who died in an accident, a physician using a telephone while driving. But what kind of sanctions are the States putting on people? Is it tickets?
    Mr. SHELTON. Right now they are not State laws; they are local laws. Many of them are quite recent. I don't know, I think people are normally ticketed. But I don't know the frequency of how often they are ticketed, how many tickets they have given out, how effective they found that.
    We will be glad to look into that though and provide that to the committee.
    Ms. BROWN. Three strikes and you are in jail or something?
    Mr. SHELTON. I don't think it does that.
    Ms. BROWN. Okay. This is an issue that I appreciate the hearing being about. I think we do need to discuss it. I am not at all certain, though, that we can legislate this behavior. I think probably upgrading the technology might be the simplest thing.
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am just thinking out loud.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
    Mr. Graves, do you have any questions?
    Mr. GRAVES. Thank you, Mr. Shelton, for being here today. I was just curious; can you tell me what other distractions are out there and where cell phones rank in the list? I mean, my children have to be high on that list as far as distractions in the car, and children in general.
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    But other things, you can go down the interstate and see people reading newspapers. I have even seen an individual playing a musical instrument, writing on notepads. I mean there is just a variety of different things. Where do cell phones actually fit in there?
    Mr. SHELTON. We actually don't have a ranking of them, but there are certainly a lot of things out there that causing distractions. So, cell phones are not the majority of the causes of distraction. Again, early in my testimony I pointed out that we estimate that, based on the 1996 study, that distraction is involved in 20 to 30 percent of all crashes.
    Studies done in the late 1970s had similar type numbers even when we didn't have cell phones. So, it is not the sole cause of distraction out there. There are a lot of different causes of distraction. There is more opportunity for some things. For example, every car has a radio. A lot of people don't have cell phones, for example.
    Mr. GRAVES. In the last decade, it seems that accidents have stayed fairly consistent. But obviously, cell phone usage has gone up exponentially. I have a hard time making a correlation. Thanks.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
    Mr. Kennedy.
    Mr. KENNEDY. Thank you, Mr. Shelton. I appreciate your testimony. We have heard a lot in the questions earlier about encouraging the States to do more. I come from the school that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. So, one way of encouraging them to do more is to really acknowledge those who have done more and have been innovative in their approach to both collect data as well as to educate new drivers, mature drivers.
    Is there any States that you can highlight that have done a particularly good job in this or do you have maybe plans for the future to highlight them, to use that as a way of encouraging them to do more?
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    Mr. SHELTON. I must admit, I don't know off the top of my head whether any particular States are particularly good on this. We often highlight States when we think they are doing a particularly good job in some aspect of traffic safety. This might be a good idea for a potential program.
    Mr. KENNEDY. Yes, and I think as part of the education process that we have talked about quite a bit today, you know, reaching out an example that you find in a State that is particularly good and really highlighting that, I think, would be a good way of us doing that.
    Mr. SHELTON. Yes, I think that would be good.
    Mr. KENNEDY. In the Washington Post they had an article from AAA, which we may hear about today, talking about some ranking of distractions. Music distractions, having to change your CD or change your radio, was eight times higher in that study than with a cell phone.
    I know that there is a lot of technology. For example, in my Jeep I can change my CD, turn off the radio, change stations while keeping both hands on the wheel, which I don't see in that many vehicles.
    You also have multiple CD stack players. This is all fairly low technology stuff. If this is really, truly a distraction, we ought to be encouraging more use of abilities to change your music without taking your hands off the wheel and those types of things.
    Have you found any manufacturers that have been pretty good at this or is there a way we can have of highlighting and acknowledging those?
    Mr. SHELTON. We are looking at that issue in particular. We are actually doing some testing right now in conjunction with Transport Canada on looking at voice-activated systems, not just cell phones. I am talking about radios, stereos, and navigation systems. We are looking at how those types of systems compare as far as distraction risk to manually operated systems. So, as we get the research completed and get that out, I think that will help design better systems.
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    Mr. KENNEDY. Finally, my last question deals with, you know, we have talked about how technology links, cell phones, can make our life more distracting, but there is also technology coming up on warning systems that can tell us, you know, are we getting too close? Are we getting too close to another object? Are we getting too close to the side of the road? They can tell us that.
    How much hope can we hold up for these types of systems and what do you see as their progress for development?
    Mr. SHELTON. We actually hold out a lot of hope for those kinds of systems and we are pursuing development of those systems through our Intelligent Vehicle initiatives, things like technology which would sense if a car is coming alongside you or rear-end crash warning systems which warn the driver if you are getting too close to the vehicle in front of you.
    So, we do believe that there is a lot of potential in that area.
    Mr. GRAVES. Good. Well, I thank you for your answers and for your testimony here today.
    Mr. SHELTON. Thank you.
    Mr. PETRI. Mr. Kirk, do you have any questions?
    Mr. KIRK. I just want to get the numbers straight here. According to your testimony, out of about 100 crashes, about 30 of them would be due to distractions. Is that correct?
    Mr. SHELTON. Twenty to 30.
    Mr. KIRK. And 15 of those would be because of outside persons eating or adjusting the radio, et cetera?
    Mr. SHELTON. We have not broken it down that far. We have done some sketchy work. We are not definitive about breaking it down below that level. There is some earlier work that has been done on that. Certainly, that is in the ballpark.
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    Mr. KIRK. In the testimony we have here, 15 percent of those crashes would be due to those outside persons eating or adjusting the radio. So, it is 15. About one to two of those crashes would be due to cell phones.
    Mr. SHELTON. It is relatively small. There is some research which has ranges on that number right now. It is relatively small.
    Mr. KIRK. So when we are looking at distractions, we really ought to look at driver's education. Is this really a McDonald's problem in the car more than it is a cell phone problem?
    Mr. SHELTON. That is why we are looking at all sources of distraction, eating in cars, using stereos and CD players in cars, route navigation systems. We are looking at everything which causes distraction. In some cases what our research should lead to is technological change to improve these systems to make them easier to operate without causing distraction to the driver.
    In some cases we hope it will lead to improved education or driver training for people so that they understand the risk of indulging in such behaviors.
    Mr. KIRK. We have also got about 98,000 emergency calls from cell phones.
    Mr. SHELTON. Yes, everyday.
    Mr. KIRK. Do we have any data on how the emergency response times have improved because there are communications in the vehicle?
    Mr. SHELTON. I am not aware of that, but I will look into that and provide it to the committee if we have that.
    Mr. KIRK. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
    Do you have any questions, Mr. Otter?
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    Mr. OTTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    My apologies for my late arrival, Mr. Shelton. I have one primary question and that would be: Have you speculated or have you been able to go through and figure out which Federal program that we might threaten the States with if they don't comply with the rules and regulations that may be promulgated under this program?
    Mr. SHELTON. No, sir. We have not done that. Right now we are in a research phase to better understand this issue. We are not at the point where we are proposing that States be sanctioned or encouraged to pass certain types of legislation.
    Mr. OTTER. But under past practices, whether it be speed limits or construction of highways or something else, if the States didn't comply with some Federally endowed or thought-up programs such as the one here that could be contemplated, carrying it out to its natural conclusion, certainly we would be able to find something in our appropriations where we could appropriately threaten the States if they didn't comply. Isn't that the usual case?
    Mr. SHELTON. Well, that certainly happens sometimes. We are certainly not advocating that at this point in time. We are trying to understand this issue, not push a certain solution on States.
    Mr. OTTER. But it is contemplated then. At this time we are just not pushing it?
    Mr. SHELTON. I don't think we are contemplating it one way or the other. Right now we are trying to understand the problem. Once we understand the problem, then we will be at a point where we can pose solutions that we think are appropriate.
    Mr. OTTER. Well, I want to understand the problem, too. I can't imagine that this information that we might be able to gather at hearings like this and Mr. Chairman, let me add my voice to those who have thanked you for calling this meeting.
    I am concerned, having been the Lt. Governor of a State for 14 years. I am concerned that usually when we draw some conclusions at the Federal level, when we have been able to collect some data, we tend to inflict our solutions onto the 50 States. I am just concerned. I think collecting the information is great. Perhaps coming up with a solution that we might advise the State is a proper function.
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    But I have to draw my conclusion, sir, based upon 14 years of experience. The speed of my highways and the curves and the super at which every curve is at, almost every aspect of our highway activity in Idaho and many activities off of the Idaho highways have been a result of some Federally-inspired of how we ought to act and react. Thank you.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
    I do have a question or two. I think Mr. Borski has one more to wrap up this panel.
    The subject of greater awareness and trying to emphasize the importance of avoiding distracted driving has occurred repeatedly. Do you have any information or do you work with the States? They do have, all of them, programs of driver education for young people and they all have to take exams before driving.
    Have there been any changes in those education courses and in the exams that you are aware of as a result of new technology rolling out or is that something that we ought to be considering to hopefully make people more aware?
    Mr. SHELTON. We do work with the States on driver education curriculum. I must admit I don't know right now whether those curriculums have changed recently to reflect new technologies and educating people about that. We will be glad to look into that and get back to you, sir.
    Mr. PETRI. That might be a fairly simple thing and inexpensive thing to gather data about. Perhaps there are some ideas that people might have about things that could be emphasized to young people so that they can use these sorts of devices wisely.
    Mr. SHELTON. Absolutely.
    Mr. PETRI. I don't know of many fathers or mothers who, if they have a daughter, especially, who gets to be 16 and drives, doesn't like them maybe to have a cell phone in the car. So this is an aspect of that. I think we ought to be working to make sure people understand how to wisely use it and not abuse it.
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    The second thing is, and it was referred to briefly by Mr. Graves, but there are external indicators as to what is actually happening, the main one being the rate of fatalities on the highway, which we have seen steady progress on over the years. I guess last year there was a small move up. We would like to reverse that and move it back down.
    Do you have either any information or speculation as to the reasons why the progress that we have been making in highway safety have leveled off, both for truck and auto and maybe even are starting back up?
    Mr. SHELTON. Certainly on total fatalities we have more vehicles out there being driven more miles, so you have more exposure. When you look at the rate per vehicle mile traveled, in general over time it has gotten much better. We did have a slight up-tick last year, but it was very slight. We are hoping to reverse that soon.
    We still need to do a lot more in this country to increase belt use, for example. It is only 71 percent right now. We need to do a lot more on reducing impaired driving. About 16,000 people died last year due to impaired driving. So, there is a lot of progress still needed to achieve the goals that we want to achieve.
    Mr. PETRI. So, is it fair to say, at least based on those accident figures, that while this is a problem, it is not a crisis at this point because we have not seen any spike up or increase in actual fatalities?
    Mr. SHELTON. No, I wouldn't call it a crisis, but it is certainly something that we want to address quickly. We want to be proactive on this. We are seeing a high pace of technological change in this area and we want to make sure that that doesn't have undesirable side effects.
    So, while we don't see a big problem to it, we want to work on this very quickly and proactively to make sure that doesn't happen.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
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    Mr. Borski.
    Mr. BORSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. Shelton, let me again thank you for your testimony. I wanted to follow up something that our colleague from California, Mr. Honda, raised with you. That is, at least in my view, a good piece of this hearing is to try and educate the public on potential dangers.
    My understanding is that you don't have the data yet or the means to collect the data. I am wondering how we can help you get that.
    Mr. Rahall suggested that maybe there are incentives to ban the use of the cell phone. You said you were not interested in that, nor am I at this point.
    But what about potentially using incentives to get the data at least? Wouldn't it make sense if all the States were recording the same data?
    Mr. SHELTON. Yes, it would be very helpful to have all 50 States collecting that data.
    Mr. BORSKI. Maybe you could advise us or help us with a way to try to find that information out. Distractions are a problem. We need more hard data, I believe, on which ones are and what we can do to educate the public to make things better.
    As you mentioned, seatbelt use, that is through education, largely. Drunk driving rules through education. We know so much about those things. Most of us are responsible enough to try to do the right thing. We don't know the answers to this question yet. How do we ever get that data and how do we get it so we know where to go from there?
    That is why, again, I would really encourage you to work with us to try to find a way to get that information.
    Mr. SHELTON. We will be glad to, sir.
    Mr. BORSKI. The data that we have so far, we have different groups coming to us with surveys and we have some of it here. How good is that information based on when the data was collected and how many cell phones, for instance, are in use today versus a five-year study that maybe goes from 1994 to 1999 when arguably a whole lot fewer people were using cell phones?
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    Mr. SHELTON. The data needs improvement as far as its quality. A lot of these crashes, for example, you just don't have any data recorded at all as to whether someone was distracted or not. You can't even say whether they were distracted. Around 40 percent, I think, in some of the crash data sets that we have looked at, you can't even say one way or another. It is just unknown whether the driver was paying attention or not.
    We definitely need more in that area. You are right; the data is also going to be changing over time. Ten years ago almost no one was carrying a cell phone in their car and now you have 40 percent or so carrying them in their car. It is tough getting that data.
    Mr. BORSKI. So, we should. My State of Pennsylvania is one collecting it. Pennsylvania says that in 1999, less than four-tenths of one percent were related to wireless use. You wouldn't feel real comfortable with that data; would you? Mr. SHELTON. I wouldn't put a lot of credence in that number. I wouldn't say it is a real hard number.
    Mr. BORSKI. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you, Mr. Borski.
    Thank you, Mr. Shelton.
    The subcommittee will recess. There is a vote on the House Floor. We will recommence with Panel Two in 15 minutes.
    Mr. PETRI. The subcommittee will come to order.
    The second panel of witnesses that we will be hearing from today consists of Dr. Mark Edwards, the Managing Director for Traffic Safety of the AAA, America Automobile Association; Dr. Jane Stutts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in their Highway Safety Research Center; Too many Wheeler, Chief Executive Officer, Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association; Dr. Harold Worrall, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Intelligent Transportation Society of America; Ms. Patricia Pena, who is with Advocates of Cell Phone Safety; and Dr. Thomas Dingus, Director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
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    I apologize for the delay. As you observed, the first witness took a bit longer than we might have anticipated. But we do have a very large subcommittee and we had a lot of very interested Members.
    If you recall, your full statements will be made a part of the record. We invite you to summarize them in about five minutes for the subcommittee.
    We will begin with Dr. Edwards.

    Dr. EDWARDS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thanks for the opportunity to speak on behalf of AAA's 44 million members and all of the 200 and some odd million motorists in this country.
    In the interest of time and given the fact that Texans are not known for their ability to speak efficiently or deal efficiently with the English language, I will try to get right to the point. I think everything we have heard this morning and indeed, I think, everything we will hear this afternoon or later today will remind us of four things.
    The four things that are worth remembering as we move forward on this issue are that distractions cause crashes. There really is no doubt that distractions cause crashes. There is also no doubt that virtually every activity other than driving the car distracts.
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    I will bring the committee's attention to a graph I inserted in my written testimony that just illustrates that point. It simply looks at doing anything other than driving in heavy traffic and in light traffic and looks at lane exceedences, that is running out of your lane, as Mr. Shelton showed us in his video, and it shows that no matter what you do, if you do something other than driving, you are going to run off the road, you are going to run out of your lane. You are distracted and you are going to be otherwise occupied. It really doesn't make any difference what you do, whether it is automated or manual.
    The third point I would like to make is that available science and available science is not perfect science. It is never perfect. Fifty years from now we will still be arguing over how the dinosaurs became extinct. So, what science we have at the moment suggests that cell phones are not a large issue yet. I emphasize the yet. The AAA foundations own study shows it to be a small problem.
    The study conducted by the Japanese National Police shows it to be a small problem in absolute terms, as do other studies.
    So, in spite of the fact that all studies can be criticized and no data system is perfect, what strikes me is that every study shows the same result: that as yet cell phones are not a large problem.
    Do they increase the risk of crash involvement? Yes. All distractions cause crashes. But is it a large problem? Not yet.
    The fourth point I would like to make is that we really don't know what the future will bring. Things might be better. Things might get worse. You can build an argument for either case, but there is a growing push for technology in cars. There is a growing demand for mobility in this country and there is a growing demand for communication. So, things could get worse.
    That is the reason why we should take the time to act now. AAA, of course, recommends we do three different things: Educate, and as the creators of driver education back in the 1930s, you know, when you say ''educate drivers'' to AAA, we go off light Christmas bulbs. We think that is a wonderful idea.
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    We have a long history in this country in traffic safety that tells us when we educate the public we get improvements in safety. A greater challenge for us is to encourage manufacturers to produce devices that minimally distract. I think that is really the key here. We have to somehow figure out how to get a device in a car in such a way that it affords the minimum distraction possible.
    We are not going to eliminate distractions from sources other than telematics devices and we are not going to eliminate distractions from telematic devices themselves. We need to figure out a way to encourage that.
    To that end, AAA and 270-some odd automobile clubs round the world are developing our own protocol for measuring the distractibility of these devices and we will be providing that information to consumers in the future, hoping to educate consumers in making good choices about purchasing these devices.
    The third thing that we think needs to be done is to better monitor the development of telematics and the risk of telematic devices so that we can act more definitively in the future. I was really pleased to hear what NHTSA had to say with regard to its movements in this area.
    I have two very simple concerns. One is that the strong public demand to act on this problem when we are not sure of the right course of action is likely not the wisest step that we could take.
    One of the things that we have learned in the past 30 or so years in highway safety is when we let good science dictate what we ought to do in safety, we get improvements in safety. When we don't we don't get them. So, with all the pressure to act, we are most concerned that we start to take the kinds of definitive actions that we might think about when we are not really sure it is the wisest course of action.
    The second concern I have is this widespread belief in the myth and hands-free is risk free. It simply isn't. No study has ever shown it to be. We don't have any quick fixes for these problems, and indeed they are problems.
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    But I am particularly concerned that if we continue to send the message that hands-free is risk free that people will believe us. It seems intuitive and obvious that it ought to be, when it is not. As a consequence, we will be telling them to do the very wrong thing and affecting our problems in ways we probably wouldn't like.
    Thank you very much. I look forward to answering any questions you might have.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
    Dr. Stutts?

    Dr. STUTTS. Good morning. Thank you, Chairman Petri and Members of the subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to speak before you today.
    My name is Jane Stutts. I am manager of Epidemiological Studies at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center. I have worked at HSRC for over 25 years, conducting research on a wide range of highway safety topics.
    As we have already heard, driver inattention and driver distraction are important contributors to highway crashes. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has awarded a contract to HSRC to conduct research on the role of driver distraction in crashes. The goal of the project is to identify, by using both crash and field data, the major sources of distraction to drivers and the relative importance of the distractions as potential causes of crashes.
    As a part of this project, we have recently completed a descriptive analysis of five years of NHTSA's crash worthiness data system, or CDS data. The CDS is a national probability sample of approximately 5,000 police-reported crashes annually that involve at least one passenger vehicle that has been towed from the crash scene.
    The data are collected by trained professional crash investigation teams that visit the scene of the crash, examine the crash-involved vehicle, interview the crash victims and the witnesses, examine the crash-involved vehicles and examine any involved medical records.
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    Beginning in 1995, a variable describing the attention status of the driver was added to the CDS data. The variable includes codes for ''attentive, looked but did not see, and sleepy or asleep,'' along with more than a dozen specific distractions.
    For the current analysis, two variables were defined. One, identifying the attention status of the driver and the second, the specific distracting event for those drivers who were identified as distracted.
    For the overall data, 49 percent of the drivers were identified as attentive at the time of their crash. Eight percent were identified as distracted. Five percent were ''looked but did not see.'' Two percent were identified as sleepy or asleep. The attention status of the remaining 36 percent was unknown.
    This high percentage of drivers with unknown attention status dilutes the percentages in the other categories. Without the unknowns, the percentages of drivers identified as distracted increases to 13 percent. The percent of actual crashes involving driver distraction would be still higher. The most frequently noted source of distraction was an event, person or object outside of the vehicle. It was cited for 29 percent of the distracted drivers.
    Just over 11 percent of the drivers were distracted when adjusting a radio, tape, or CD player. An additional 11 percent were distracted by other occupants inside the vehicle.
    All of the other identified distractions, moving objects in the vehicle, other objects brought into the vehicle, adjusting vehicle or climate controls, eating and drinking, using a cell phone and smoking each accounted for only one percent to four percent of the total.
    Young drivers under 20 years of age were the most likely to be involved in distraction-related crashes. In addition, certain types of distractions were more prominent in certain age groups. For example, adjusting the radio, tape of CD player among the under-20 year olds and other occupants, often young children, among the 20 to 29-year olds.
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    When interpreting these results, one should keep in mind both the stated purpose of the analysis and the limitations inherent in crash data, such as the CDS.
    The primary purpose of this analysis was to provide input for developing a taxonomy of driver distractions that would guide subsequent real world observations in people's vehicles. Our analysis was not intended to provide definitive answers as to which distractions pose the greatest risks to drivers.
    Additional data are needed to address this question, including information on how often and under what conditions drivers engage in different distracting behaviors.
    It is also important to consider the limitations of the CDS data. Despite the in-depth nature of the data collection activities, there is potential under-reporting of driver distraction in general, as well as differential under-reporting of specific distracting events.
    The crashes involving cell phones offer a good example. Given the huge increase in reported ownership and use of cell phones nationwide, one might have expected to see an increase in the reported number of crashes involving cell phones over the five years covered by our analysis. No such increase occurred, however,
    It may be that as more attention has been drawn to the potential role of cell phones and unsafe driving in crashes, drivers have become less willing to reveal this information when involved in a crash.
    The larger issue here is that a potential bias in identifying sources of driver distraction not only in the CDS data but in any crash data that relies on information accessible to individuals investigating a crash. Clearly, better crash data is needed to qualify and quantify the magnitude of the driver distraction problem and the relative contributions of the different sources of driver distraction.
    Equally important are empirical data on how often drivers engage in potentially distractive behaviors and what it is about these behaviors that increases crash risk.
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    To date driver distraction data have primarily been collected in laboratory settings, but there is growing recognition that there also needs to be data collected in real world driving environments with people driving their own vehicles.
    I appreciate the opportunity to speak before this subcommittee and I applaud its efforts to address the safety concerns related to the proliferation of new in-vehicle technologies that, while beneficial, may nevertheless, be another source of distraction to our drivers.
    Thank you very much.
    Mr. PETRI. I thank you, Dr. Stutts.
    Mr. Wheeler?

    Mr. WHEELER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. We thank you and Mr. Borski for focusing on this issue. You know, the wireless phone is the greatest safety tool since the development of 911. One hundred and twenty thousand times a day somebody uses their wireless phone to help somebody else, to save a life, to stop a crime, to help somebody in need.
    This chart answers one of the questions that was asked previously. You can see that as subscribers increase, which is that big colored area, so have the number of 911 calls, which is the bottom line.
    The top two lines represent the response time from emergency services in urban and rural areas. You can see there is a correlation between the response time decreasing. That is because Samaritans, using their wireless phones are calling to help others. It saves lives.
    There is a well-known medical maxim that time is tissue. That chart recognizes that time is being saved and therefore lives are being saved because wireless phones enable faster response to emergencies.
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    Now what you just heard from Dr. Stutts and Dr. Edwards about their studies takes and expands this to the next level of discussion. That is what is the impact of having a wireless phone in your car insofar as distraction is concerned?
    The number one question I have been asked in the last several days since Dr. Stutts' study came out, by the media, is: Well, are you surprised by this? My comment has uniformly been no, because this research reinforces the research that has been done previously in AAA surveys, what we have seen in insurance company surveys and is supported by police crash reports. It is also supported by a new study that has come out from the University of Montreal that seems to go down the same path.
    There are multiple data points, all saying the same thing, that distractions while driving are an issue and are a serious issue; that there are multiple distractions in the car. Your wireless phone shouldn't be one of them. No call is worth a life or an injury.
    The wireless industry has been trying to do something to address the awareness of consumers about the safe use of their phone. The preponderance of the studies that identify distraction as an issue also identify a solution. That is that they propose that there should be increased education activities. That is what the industry has been doing.
    We are delivering three messages to consumers. Number one: Is this call necessary? Is this the right time to make this call? Number two: If you are going to make the call, here are some do's and don'ts.
    Number three, if you allow this call to distract you, you are violating the law.
    Here is an example of some of the print materials that are being used by our companies. But CTIA has been working to reach consumers in their cars. We have been buying drive-time radio commercials, not PSAs, drive-time radio commercials. In the last year there have been almost two billion messages delivered in drive-time radio to people in their car. I would like to play that message for you right now, if I can.
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    [Recording played.]
    Now, in addition to the almost two billion impressions that that has been making on drive-time radio, we have been working with the National Safety Council to develop a PSA for television. I would like to show that to you as well.
    [Video shown.]
    Wireless is a great safety tool. It can also be a distraction if improperly used. The researchers who identified the fact that it can be a distraction have also identified a solution. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Borski, this industry is trying to follow through itself on those recommendations by conducting its own education program.
    Thank you, sir.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you, Mr. Wheeler.
    Dr. Worrall?

    Dr. WORRALL. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Borski and Members of the Highway and Transit Subcommittee. Thank you very much for the opportunity to testify before you on driver distractions.
    I am Dr. Harold Worrall, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, or ITS America, for short. I am also Executive Director of the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority in Orlando, Florida.
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for including the complete testimony, Mr. Chairman, in the record.
    Intelligent transportation systems applied to surface transportation, the advanced electronic computer and information technologies originally developed for the space program, air traffic control and the military, ITS America is the only public-private partnership in the country focused exclusively fostering the use of advanced technologies in today's surface transportation systems.
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    Its 600-member organizations include Federal and State agencies, private companies and universities. Since 1991 it has served as a utilized Federal Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of Transportation, providing advice to help shape national transportation programs that save lives, time and money and improve our quality of life.
    Driver distraction is not a new phenomenon. When Motorola first introduced radios in cars in 1930, regulators in several northeastern States proposed banning them for fear they would distract the driver.
    In fact today radio is a prime source of information for travelers and it is essential during emergency situations. We know that there are many sources of driver distraction which do not involve technology at all, such as shaving, eating, reading maps and newspapers, just to name a few.
    ITA's American partnership with Federal and State agencies has fostered technologies that ensure the safety of drivers and improve driver focus. As technological advancements occur in vehicles, ITS America members have taken the lead in promoting safety.
    In so doing, they have applied human factors principles to reduce driver workload and distraction. Some cars today have hands-free cell phones, other technologies such as collision warning systems, adaptive cruise control, night vision and drowsy driver detection are being used to help drivers focus better on the driving task.
    Today, there is a lack of relevant research and reliable distraction specific data to create a framework for regulation. Many States do not collect relevant data about technology use in the vehicle when there has been a crash. We do not understand well enough how driver age and experience affects driver distraction.
    The Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences, University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center and other academic and research organizations are conducting studies to better define the driver distraction workload issues.
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    To this end, ITS America strongly believes that all ITS technologies must be rigorously tested on a variety of safety matrix, be carefully scrutinized by the system designer and adhere to human factors and safety guidelines before the system is offered to the general public.
    Decisions on the safe use of technology in vehicles should be based on sound science and not anecdotal information. Presently there is very little substantive research to assist lawmakers and regulators in crafting public policy and in drafting guidelines to protect the public. We need more solid research.
    ITS America and its members have created a board level driver focused task force to work with other interested organizations to develop recommendations on industry guidelines for the design and operation of telematic devices to identify relevant research governing this issue.
    ITS America would like to share those findings with you when they are available. U.S. DOT has asked ITS America to develop a proposed ten-year research agenda for the ITS program. The issue of driver distraction and driver focus should have a central role in this research agenda.
    I urge this subcommittee to consider expanding the research resources that you made available to U.S. DOT for ITS research under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century.
    In conclusion, ITS America strongly supports ITS technologies that improve driver focus and driving safety. Conversely, ITS America does not support the introduction of ITS devices that negatively impact driver safety. Sound science should determine the difference.
    ITS America endorses the application of sound human factors research and design standards promoted by the partnership of government and industry and supports peer review for any mandated studies to bring the best expertise to bear.
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    Again, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and distinguished Members of the committee, for the opportunity to testify. I will be glad to answer any questions you might have.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you, Dr. Worrall.
    Ms. Pena.
    Ms. PENA. Good afternoon. My name is Patricia Pena and I am Morgan Lee Pena's mom. I am here today representing the group, Advocates for Cell Phone Safety. I founded this group after the horrific death of my precious little two and a half-year old daughter.
    On November 2nd, 1999, Morgan and I were on our way home from my sister's house when the crash occurred. According to police reports, the driver was using his cell phone when he ran a stop sign at 45 miles per hour, broad siding the passenger side of my vehicle right where Morgan Lee was sitting in her car seat.
    Morgan was taken to Children's Hospital in Philadelphia where they told me she had one of the worst head injuries they had ever seen in a child of her age. She clung to life for the next 16 hours. We waited and we prayed. Then the doctors walked in the room. I will never forget the look on the doctor's face when he told us that she wasn't going to survive her injuries.
    At 4:58 a.m., November 3rd, 1999, they pronounced our baby dead.
    Days later the District Attorney called to say that there was nothing that he could do. There is no penalty for ordinary negligence behind the wheel of a car when the result is death. Using a cell phone while driving is perfectly legal. The driver simply received two traffic tickets in the mail and a $50 fine.
    I didn't understand. I needed to know more about what just happened. So, I reached for the owner's manual of my own cell phone. I didn't have to read long before I found what was printed prominently on Page One. Under the headline, ''For Your Safety,'' it reads, ''Do not use a hand-held phone while driving. Park the vehicle first.''
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    Clearly, they are recommending you not use their product while driving. But I knew no one knew this was in there. We proceeded to scour the Internet for information. We found compelling scholastic studies, government reports and 20 other industrialized nations that already ban this behavior.
    For instance, in Japan accidents caused by drivers using mobile phones fell 52 percent in the 12 months after the passage of the law and injuries in such accidents fell 53 percent.
    Instantly, I knew I had to tell everyone what I had just learned. So, I went public with this information. Every since that moment, public opinion polls have been squarely on my side. The Quinnapeac poll found 87 percent of New York voters would support a law restricting the use of cell phones while driving.
    Another poll found 85 percent of Connecticut voters felt the same. Nationally, according to the Pam Report, over two-thirds of the American public was found to be also in support of such a law.
    So, I come before you today, not as a paid member of the industry, but simply as the voice of the American public, whose will should not be ignored.
    The industry will try to say that there are so many other distractions happening in vehicles that cell phones are just one of them. Cellular phone use is a more complex and demanding task than any other faced by a driver.
    What I have learned from researchers is that there are four demands placed on a driver: The visual, cognitive, motor and auditory demands. There is no other distraction happening in a vehicle that requires all four of those demands except the use of a cellular phone while driving.
    For instance, there is no cognitive demand placed on hamburger eating. It is neither good nor safe, but it doesn't rise to the same level of driver distraction as does using a cellular phone. They are simply not comparable distractions.
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    The other thing researchers have told me that makes cellular phone use unique unto itself is the length of the distraction. It takes just a second to change the radio, to change the station. But one can literally be on the phone from the time they leave the home until they arrive at their destination. That level of absorption is unprecedented.
    The other point that shouldn't be overlooked is the sheer magnitude of the problem. One hundred ten million cell phones are in use, and incredible three million phones are sold each month.
    There is a cell phone for every driver in America. With 85 percent of them admitting that they use them at least some of the time, this type of proliferation can be compared to no other.
    Lastly, we killed 120 children and small statured women with airbags and there was a huge governmental and societal response, as there should have been.
    We killed 150 people with Firestone tires and the response was the same. Both airbags and tires are essential parts of the driving environment. Cell phones are not. Why do we tolerate this problem?
    Our organization believes that there is no doubt that the cell phone is a useful safety tool. I have one. I will keep it in my car. I just won't use it while driving. We can enjoy the benefits of this technology and other technology, but there is no benefit to that technology and only increased risk when we allow the use of this technology while the vehicle is in motion.
    We ask the committee to thoughtfully consider the safety implications of all new devices that they are putting in vehicles these days.
    I appreciate your time.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
    Dr. Dingus?
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    Dr. DINGUS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Representative Borski and Members of the subcommittee. My name is Tom Dingus and I am Director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. I am also a long-time safety and human factors researcher.
    I would like to make several points that must be carefully considered to solve this real and growing problem. Point Number One: The distraction issues that we face today and that we will face in the near future are much different and have the potential to be a much greater public health risk than the distractions we have faced in the past.
    Many emerging electronic devices require much greater driver attention than do conventional tasks. It is true that tuning a radio or eating take attention away from the roadway and cause crashes. However, analyses of emerging electronic, automotive and portable devices indicate a crash risk between two and five times higher than these common tasks.
    I can assure you that you do not want to be driving next to someone accessing the Internet on his or her cellular phone.
    Point Number Two: Solving the electronic device distraction problem is particularly time critical because the rate of technology deployment is outpacing our full understanding of the public health impacts.
    This issue is analogous to allowing a drug company to release a new drug without fully understanding its side effects. Many will argue, and have argued today, that the extent of this public health threat cannot be precisely estimated and therefore decisive action is inappropriate.
    Using the new drug analogy, one could argue that action is necessary because we do not fully understand the threat to public safety. If we wait until we have very accurate data to act, the data will likely tell us that hundreds of thousands of crashes and thousands of fatalities have resulted from delayed action.
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    Point Number Three: While there are safety benefits that will be realized with the deployment of electronic devices, these benefits can be obtained only in vehicles engineered to minimize driver distraction.
    Many in-vehicle technologies promise to make driving safer. These technologies include collision warning systems, night vision systems, and May Day Alert systems.
    In addition, studies have shown that cell phones have significant safety benefits. However, only prudent design and selective restrictions will result in a net reduction of and not a sharp increase in crashes and fatalities as a result of the automotive electronic revolution.
    Point Number Four: The driver distraction problems and solutions are multi-dimensional. Automotive stakeholders in this mobile information revolution have recognized the risk to the public and have already taken measures to improve design and limit the functionality of in-vehicle systems.
    It is important for the government to continue to support the on-going efforts by these stakeholders to address the distraction issue through design and implementation of safer devices. Based upon current trends in this activity, we believe that no regulatory action is necessary.
    The use of portable electronic devices in cars and trucks poses greater concern that the design of in-vehicle devices. In general, portable devices are not designed to be safely used by the driver of a moving vehicle.
    Concern over crashes related to the use of portable devices has led to laws in a number of countries that prohibit the use of hand-held electronic devices in a moving vehicle. These laws have already resulted in substantial savings of lives, injuries and property damage.
    Point Number Five: Public education programs are an important part of the solution to the driver distraction problem, but they will be insufficient in and of themselves. Many organizations have embarked upon driver distraction public awareness campaigns.
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    History tells us that such campaigns will reduce unsafe behavior associated with electronic devices, but only in the range of 20 to 25 percent.
    In contrast, legal measures limiting the use of hand-held devices to stationary vehicles would likely result in driver abstention rates in the range of 60 to 75 percent. Based on current projections of device uses and crash rates, such a legal countermeasure could save 10,000 or more lives by the end of this decade.
    In conclusion, due to the risk and rapid rate of deployment of in-vehicle and portable electronic devices, quick and decisive action involving multiple measured solutions is needed. Based upon this logic, I recommend the following: First, enhance support of government and government-industry cooperative research to better determine the causes and effects of distraction associated with these rapidly emerging technologies.
    The data you have heard today was in the past. We are living in the past in a world that is moving at light speed. The statistics that you heard on crashes are three years old. The newest crashes are three years old.
    These technologies are coming at a cycle of less than a year. Second, continue the support and development of public awareness and persuasion campaigns to lessen the impact of the distraction problem.
    Third, consider measured legislation to limit the use of hand-held electronic devices in moving automobiles. I believe an effective measured approach would be to continue to allow the use of devices for emergency purposes such as cell phone 911 calls.
    Again, thank you very much for this opportunity.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
    Mr. Borski, do you have any questions?
    Mr. BORSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me thank our panelists for their testimony.
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    I particularly want to thank Mrs. Pena for her very moving testimony. We obviously share the great tragedy that you undertook personal. I just want to tell you how appreciative we are of you coming forward and the courage you are showing to try to educate us and all of America as to the potential dangers here.
    Here, I greatly admire you for taking the stand that you are.
    Dr. Edwards, let me start with you, if I may. First of all, yesterday we received several calls indicating that AAA was in the business of selling hand-held cell phones, but not hands-free cell phones. Perhaps you would like to comment on that in the interest of full disclosure.
    Dr. EDWARDS. Sure, I would be happy to. We also provide our members with maps and tour books and those are also distractors. It is that that underlies our great concern in this area.
    Yes, our clubs do provide hand-held phones and in fact they do provide hands-free phones. Our message with hands-free, as I said, is that it is a convenience feature. It is certainly not risk-free.
    One of the reasons that we and 200 and some odd other automobile clubs around the world have joined in this effort to develop a protocol for measuring how distracting these devices are is to ensure that we can, ourselves, provide devices that distract as little as possible.
    So, it is an issue for us. Yes, we do provide cell phones to our members. Our members also place literally tens of millions of VRS calls a year, many of them by phone. That is the source of our concern. It is a safety issue. It is real and we have to solve it.
    Mr. BORSKI. Could you elaborate on why you believe that hands-free devices are not safer than hand-held devices? It would seem to me, you just said, that we ought to look for as little distraction as possible? Wouldn't hands-free be less distractive?
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    Dr. EDWARDS. Well, that is the real conundrum we face, that it would seem obvious to any of us that hands-free would be less distracting than and then risk-free. But as Mr. Shelton pointed out, in NHTSA studies, they have seen no advantage for hands-free in distractibility.
    In the AAA Foundation's own study in 1993, we found no benefit for hands-free technology and no study to date has. If you would ask me why, I would tell you it is because the things that are most distracting to people and occupy the bigger part of their time are cognitive activities. It is the conversation that is taking place in association with the phone.
    If you look at the Japanese study, and I will agree with every other person in the room about the quality of the data, the Japanese study shows that you are about two times more likely to have an accident while answering the phone call as opposed to placing the call. So, again, hands-free doesn't do anything to help in that area.
    It is not that hands-free is bad; it is just the message that it is risk-free and there is no data to support that.
    Mr. BORSKI. I would also like to follow up on your recommendation that we pursue educational approaches to help the public recognize and manage driver distraction to the exclusion of government regulation.
    A recent survey by the Insurance Research Council found that 89 percent of cell phone owners believe that using a cell phone while driving is a distraction and increases the likelihood of an accident.
    However, 42 percent of them report using their phones at least sometimes while driving, even though they know it is a distraction and increases the likelihood of an accident.
    In the same survey, 65 percent of cell phone owners said they would support laws to ban cell phone use while driving.
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    Given all of this, it seems to me that cell phone owners see much greater value in government regulation than in education. Do you agree?
    Dr. EDWARDS. Well, I wouldn't presume to speak for the American public. I do think, as I said earlier, one of my concerns is that there is a great public push to address this problem without having what I think is a clear understanding of it to solve it.
    My concern with those points of view is not that there is anything wrong with the points of view, but that they are driving us to a premature solution. That is my real concern. We are trying with all we can to educate our members and the motoring public at large. I think we need to do that. We need to get our advice down to simple, understandable advice. We need to know it is advice that makes sense and that people will follow it.
    We are publishing our own cell phone safety tips. I think that publishing cell phone safety tips has probably become the most popular activity anybody could engage in because I think we all recognize how important it is.
    That is just one small step. We are one of the largest providers of driver education in the world. We are modifying all of our driver education materials to do that. We think the issue is particularly important for young drivers who are more easily distracted. I think all of these things we have to do.
    I also agree that we cannot limit what we do to these things. We really have to make the devices not distracting. Look at their functionality. But we have to educate.
    Mr. BORSKI. Mr. Chairman, I see the light is flashing. Let me conclude just by congratulating on this document that you put out. I think this is important. I do believe that educating the public is extremely important.
    I don't know where we are going to go with this eventually, whether there will ever need to be a law. I don't think we are at that point yet because I don't believe we have enough data. But I do think that what AAA is putting out here is extremely helpful and I think it is crucial that we do educate the public about what can happen if you are on a cell phone, particularly in a serious conversation while you are driving.
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    Let me thank you for that.
    Mr. PETRI. Thank you. Mr. Kirk, do you have any questions?
    Mr. KIRK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just wanted to follow up with Mr. Wheeler. I know your testimony focused on the education efforts in the PSA that you have. Can you go into your plans for the future as to how the industry is going to advance driver's education with the cell phone?
    Mr. PETRI. I am sorry, but there is a fire alarm sounding. So unfortunately, we will have to adjourn this hearing.
    [Whereupon, at 1:10 p.m. the subcommittee was adjourned, to reconvene at the call of the Chair.]