WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and National Safety Council President Janet Froetscher this week announced the creation of FocusDriven, the first national nonprofit organization devoted specifically to raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.
The group will be led by Jennifer Smith, who has been an outspoken advocate against distracted driving since her mother was killed by someone talking on his cell phone while driving in 2008.
FocusDriven is a direct outgrowth of the September 2009 national Distracted Driving Summit called by Secretary LaHood. Since the two-day meeting, family members of distracted driving victims have worked to establish an advocacy organization with support from the Department of Transportation and the National Safety Council (NSC), a nonprofit organization that uses leadership, research, education and advocacy to prevent injuries and save lives.
FocusDriven's new Website, www.focusdriven.org, hosts information on distracted driving, ways to get involved, and help for victims and family members, who include FocusDriven Founding Director Elissa Schee of Citra, Fla., who lost her daughter, Margay, when a semi truck slammed into the back of her stopped school bus.
FocusDriven is modeled after Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which has successfully changed society's attitudes towards drinking and driving with the use of advocates who have experienced the terrible consequences firsthand. FocusDriven also hopes to provide support for victims of distracted driving, which has become a growing epidemic in our society, but also to expand its mission to include education and the evaluation of new technologies.
Putting an end to the dangerous practice of distracted driving is a top priority for Secretary LaHood and the Department of Transportation. The department recently launched a federal Website, www.distraction.gov, with comprehensive information on distracted driving, as well as a national PSA featuring Secretary LaHood to raise awareness about this dangerous driving behavior.