2010 Pulitzer Prize awarded for national reporting on driver distraction

distracted driving

The 2010 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting was awarded to Matt Richtel and members of the New York Times Staff "for his incisive work on the hazardous use of cell phones, computers and other devices while operating cars and trucks".

Mr. Richtel's reporting represents, in my opinion, investigative journalism in its highest form. I was privileged to watch Matt work on the series of articles that resulted in this award. His reporting brought the epidemic of distracted driving into the national consciousness and was a trigger for the National Distracted Driving Summit held in Washington D.C. last Fall. Subsequent efforts by the Oprah Winfrey Show to highlight the dangers of distracted driving have helped to keep the issue on the front burner.

The New York Times covered the issue of driver distraction from science and technology, to public policy, to government cover-ups, and highlighted the human toll associated with driver distraction. The story of cell phones and driver distraction is multi-layered and the New York Times series devoted many front-page stories on the issue.

Efforts by Mr. Richtel and members of the New York Times should help to create an awareness of the hazards associated with distracted driving that is comparable to the risks of driving while intoxicated. It took decades to make drunk driving socially unacceptable. Let's hope that it takes less time to take a responsible approach to distracted driving.

You can see some of Mr. Richtel's video reporting on my lab web page (www.psych.utah.edu/lab/appliedcognition).

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distracted driving

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