Early in the Obama administration, the Secretary of Transportation identified the need to address the adverse effect of performing a safety-sensitive function in one of the transportation modes while distracted by such things as text messaging or the use of cell phones. The Department attacked this problem, generally referred to as “distracted driving,” through multiple channels and the leveraging of limited resources. The Secretary held multiple “summits” with key affected interests to develop data and ideas. He generated significant publicity through various outreach efforts (which generated attention that caused many to voluntarily focus on the problem). These efforts included press conferences or releases, blogs, and websites devoted to the issue.
The Secretary also had the Department focus on directly addressing the problem through the regulation of those subject to DOT rules, application of limitations to Federal employees and contractors through executive order, development of model laws for State and local governments, and the development of other guidance documents. This multi-faceted approach to a significant problem provides important insight into techniques that others could use to address their problems.