DRIVE Coalition Throws on the Brakes
In the wake of a stern press conference delivered Wednesday by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the lobbying firm Seward Square Group has announced that it will scuttle its nascent efforts to push back against the “distracted driving” laws that have been sweeping state legislatures. Seward Square had been floating a proposal to form a trade group made up of insurance agencies, the electronics industry, phone companies and car manufacturers to present a unified voice in Washington, but now that its plans are out in the open, the group has decided to change course. Says spokesman Babak Zafarnia in a statement:
Our collaborative effort simply sought to expand the discussion to include other common forms of driver distraction. We are pleased that the concept has met its goal of expanding dialogue on distracted driving; therefore, the proposed coalition is no longer being pursued.
A more likely explanation for the about-face is that a ten-page internal document prepared by Seward Square was obtained last week by the website Fair Warning, which promptly publicized the group’s efforts to reposition the debate away from regulating mobile technology in automobiles and toward promoting education about driver distraction in general. In a policy statement the association gave to legislators, it argued:
Scientific research has demonstrated driver distraction can arise from a wide variety of sources – conversations with passengers, eating, consuming beverages, smoking, tending to children and other such activities.
Except cell phones have been estimated by the National Safety Council to cause 28 percent of all vehicle crashes.