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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 21, 2010

UI researcher presents at Washington, D.C., ‘Distracted Driver Summit’

Driver distraction -- accounting for thousands of deaths annually –- remains one of the nation's greatest highway safety challenges. However, researchers are making progress toward lessening the problem.

That is the message Daniel McGehee, director of the University of Iowa Public Policy Center's Human Factors and Vehicle Safety Research Program and adjunct associate professor in the Colleges of Engineering and Public Health, will deliver Tuesday, Sept. 21, at the Second National Distracted Driver Summit in Washington, D.C.

In addition to describing the history of driver distraction research, McGehee will discuss how:

--Mobile phones are being used less often for person-to-person conversation and increasingly to gain access to online information sources.
--Driver distraction research is increasingly interdisciplinary, including physicians, engineers, gerontologists and many other professionals.
--A full array of research tools from driving simulators and other naturalistic devices are required to answer complex research questions raised by distracted driving.

McGehee's own driver distraction research involves the use of on-board, event-triggered video recorders to document the driving activities of new teenage drivers. He has found that sharing the videos with teen drivers and their parents can greatly reduce the number of potentially dangerous driving events. His research is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute (NHTSA), the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

"There are ever-increasing demands on our attention while we drive," said McGehee. "The proliferation of smart phones keeps us continually online -- connected to text messages, e-mail and social networks. Such reading and typing interaction is intensely distracting."

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood convened the Distracted Driver Summit, in part, because driver distraction is one of his primary areas of focus. The meeting includes researchers and representatives of state legislatures, government safety agencies, law enforcement and many other fields.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

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