Concentrate on Distracted Driving: A Challenge to MIT Students from US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood
Ray LaHood, US Secretary of Transportation
Description: From the MIT News Office:
Research has shown that talking on a phone while driving, even with a hands"free cellphone, causes as much of an impairment to driving ability as being drunk. And yet, says U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, while the nation has successfully cracked down on drunk driving, when it comes to cell phone use in cars, nearly everybody does it.
This dangerous "epidemic" must stop, he said, and he hopes that smart people like the students at MIT will come up with ways - technological, social or political - to help curb the phenomenon, which kills thousands of people every year and causes many thousands more injuries.
To emphasize the point, LaHood invited a local couple, Jerry Cibley and Jeri Katz of Foxborough, Massachusetts, to come to his talk to share their experience: Three years ago, Jerry was talking on the phone to his son Jordan, who was driving at the time; Jordan dropped the phone during the conversation, bent down to pick it up, and slammed into a tree. He was killed instantly.
In calling for students to help find solutions to the problem, LaHood said, "Your time at MIT is more than an opportunity, it's a responsibility." He urged students to devote themselves to helping to find solutions to real"world problems such as the "driving while distracted" issue that he stressed in his talk, or the problem of reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
"Something needs to be done," he said. "I challenge all of you to find solutions."
About the Speaker(s): As Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood leads an agency with more than 55,000 employees and a $70 billion budget that oversees air, maritime and surface transportation missions.
Secretary LaHood's primary goals include safety across all modes, restoring economic health and creating jobs, sustainability _ shaping the economy of the coming decades by building new transportation infrastructure, and assuring that transportation policies focus on people who use the transportation system and their communities.
Before becoming Secretary of Transportation, LaHood served for 14 years in the U.S. House of Representatives from the 18th District of Illinois (from 1995"2009). During that time he served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and, after that, on the House Appropriations Committee. Prior to his election to the House, he served as Chief of Staff to U.S. Congressman Robert Michel, whom he succeeded in representing the 18th District, and as District Administrative Assistant to Congressman Thomas Railsback. He also served in the Illinois State Legislature.
Before his career in government, Secretary LaHood was a junior high school teacher, having received his degree from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. He was also director of the Rock Island County Youth Services Bureau and Chief planner for the Bi"States Metropolitan Planning Commission in Illinois.
Host(s): School of Engineering, Transportation@MIT
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