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For Better or Worse, Webster's Word of the Year 2009: Distracted Driving

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood discusses the news.

Cross-posted from DOT's "Fast Lane" blog.

I appreciate the choice Webster's New World College Dictionary has made in selecting "distracted driving" as their Word of the Year 2009. I think its rapid intrusion into our national vocabulary shows what an epidemic distracted driving has become.

There's no denying that this phrase became part of my vocabulary this past year. Below is Webster's Editor-in-Chief Mike Agnes explaining their choice:

Now, as interesting as it is to talk about what "distracted" really modifies here, it's probably much more important to focus on what "distracted driving" says about our common sense. 

On its website, Webster's explains its choice further:

A sign of the times surely, distracted driving is another reflection – and consequence – of our ongoing romance with all things digital and mobile and the enhanced capabilities they provide. While it now may be easier and quicker to feed our multitasking habits, it is not always safe, and many jurisdictions are formalizing that position by making it a crime to text or otherwise use a cellphone while driving.

And that's why we've produced the PSA "Calling Plan," and that's why we've launched D!, and that's why we want to make 2010 the year we put distracted driving behind us.

Ray LaHood is Secretary of Transportation