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Employer Group Issues Guidelines for Avoiding Distractions During Driving

Aired June 27, 2000 - 2:10 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Hang up the cell phone, put down the cheeseburger, a team of government and corporate good citizens is urging distracted drivers to keep their eyes on the road. That group is out today with a handful of common-sense recommendations.

CNN's Kathleen Koch has them for us now from Washington -- Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, truth be told, most of us have at one time or another, including myself, been guilty of what the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety calls "distractive driving." In a survey of 1,026 drivers taken earlier this month, they found 70 percent routinely talk to passengers; 47 percent adjust controls; 29 percent eat, or worse yet, read; 26 percent pick up something that fell; 19 percent talk on the phone; and only 15 percent claim they never engage in such risky behavior.

We took one of our CNN cameras out to a nearby highway and we caught plenty of distracted drivers on cell phones, reading, one man even eating Chinese food while driving at highway speeds. As you can see, it's incredible what people will do out there.

The employer group today is releasing its own videotape illustrating realistic scenarios and giving tips to its employees about the consequences of taking your eyes off the road.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a service station right over there. We can get directions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know we can find it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, give me the map so I can look at it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me have that. If I could trust you to read a map, we wouldn't be in this fix in the first place.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you would let me read it once in a while, maybe I could get us out of this fix.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I left it up to you, we'd be in Shaboigan (ph). UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you'd left it up to me, I'd go alone.

(SOUND OF CRASH)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK EDWARDS, MANAGING DIRECTOR FOR TRAFFIC SAFETY, AAA: The research tells us that somewhere between 25 and 50 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in this country really have driver distraction as their root cause. And on a daily basis that's somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000-8,000 crashes. And so it is a problem we're solving and it is a problem of some magnitude.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH: To help prevent such accidents, AAA and the other employers recommend that drivers secure children and items before they begin to drive. More common-sense tips: shave, put on your makeup and plan your route before you get in the car.

Now cell phone use is not discouraged, though they do suggest avoiding lengthy and complex conversations, and if you can't, then please pull over to have them.

Back to you, Lou.

WATERS: OK, Kathleen Koch in Washington.

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