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Not Good: Distracted Driving Left Nearly 6,000 Dead Last Year

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Thanks for being an example to all of us, LADOT | Photo by Lord Jim via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr

Thanks for being an example to all of us, LADOT | Photo by Lord Jim via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
We see it everyday on Los Angeles roads. Drivers eating, reading, illegally talking on a cell phone, checking Google Maps on their iPhone, painting nails, etc. So much for paying attention, not to mention the lack of turn signals used in by L.A. drivers (annoying!).

The U.S. Department of Transportation hosted a two-day summit yesterday and today on district driving, announcing that 5,870 people were killed and 515,000 were injured last year in crashes involving at least one form of driver distraction, according to the Associated Press. That's 16% of crash fatalities in 2008.

California is one of the 18 states with a ban on texting while driving as well as one of the seven that bans driving while talking on a hand-held phone. Does that mean the streets are safer? Our laws are probably too new for any comprehensive results, but California's ban on texting and phone calls does not prohibit dialing numbers or checking sites like Google Maps.

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"I think it's important that we recognize that hands free is not risk free," said Dr. John Lee, a University of Wisconsin researcher, to the news agency.