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Feds Launch Major Push To Stop Distracted Driving

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Mary Bubala 370x278 Mary Bubala
Mary Bubala joined WJZ in December 2003. She now anchors the 4-4:30...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) – There’s a new push focusing on the dangers of driving while distracted.  New statistics show one in four crashes are caused by drivers on cell phones.  reports that’s enough to spark a movement to cut off the calls.

Mary Bubala

Joe Teater would have been in college had a 20-year-old woman talking on her cell phone not driven through a red light six years ago and killed him.

“We lost Joe as a result of a phone call and you think about that today and it seems so senseless,” said David Teater, Joe’s father.

Teater is part of a new moment to educate drivers about the dangers of driving and talking on your phone.

In 2003, 600,000 crashes were caused by drivers distracted on their phones.  In 2008, that number soared to 1.6 million.

The group is pushing for complete cell-free driving.  In Maryland, it’s already illegal to text while driving, but this effort goes even further.  They say when you start your car, turn off your phone.

“Ultimately what we envision a few years down the road, when we all look back and say, `Remember those days when we all used to talk on the phone while driving? Boy, wasn’t that stupid to do?'” Teater said.

In our time on the road Tuesday, we encountered a few issues with drivers talking on cell phones.  There was a close call with one driver, who was trying to back out of a parking space with one hand on the wheel and another holding her cell phone.

Another driver admitted she was also distracted while backing up and talking on her phone.

“I definitely do it, but I don’t recommend it.  It’s a bad idea and it will probably cause an accident,” said Sandra Pearlstein. “I just almost hit your cameraman.”

Cab driver Glen Clark has story after story about distracted drivers on the road.

“Because I am out here, I see accidents at least three or four times a day,” Clark said.

The U.S. Transportation Department is backing this new effort to educate the public.  The new movement is called “Focus Driven” and it is modeled after Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

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