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Distracted Driving

The latest tactic promoted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in its campaign "to save lives and cut down on traffic accidents" -- and possibly get an increase in its $931,000,000 yearly budget (FY 2013) from Congress and to give Tennessee $16,500,00.00 under the Governor's Highway Safety Office -- is its emphasis on "distracted driving". See http://www.distraction.gov/.

Everyone knows that texting and dialing on a cellphone while driving, or any other type of distraction, can increase the chances of an accident occurring.

However, you may have recently noticed on the interstate highways in Tennessee (and in other states as well) large, expensive electronic message boards in bright orange letters urging "drivers not to drink and drive", " booze it and lose it," "click it or ticket", etc. On New Year's Eve, the message boards listed the unfortunate statistics that 937 persons in Tennessee had died in traffic accidents in 2011and 1,002 persons had been killed by that date in 2012.

"Saving lives" is the publicly appealing theme of NHTSA, but putting a visibly distracting message board across interstate highways where vehicles legally travel at speeds of 55-70 mph in congested areas is an additional distraction in addition to those cited to further their plea for more taxpayers dollars.

Saving lives is a good objective. Using these expensive distracting message boards is another abuse of taxpayers' money and adds to the distracted driving problem.

It would be interesting to see the budgetary items of NHTSA and the Tennessee Governors Highway Safety Office for the cost for each of these distractions.

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