WASHINGTON (AP) -- Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is stepping up efforts to fight distracted driving and is pressuring states to ban texting and hand-held cellphone use by drivers.
LaHood calls the problem "a national epidemic," saying studies show distracted driving is particularly acute among teenage and young adult drivers.
He also announced Thursday the government will award $2.4 million to Delaware and California for pilot projects to combine more police enforcement with publicity campaigns against distracted driving.
Speaking at a news conference, he said similar pilot projects in Syracuse, N.Y., and Hartford, Conn., were shown to successfully curb distracted driving.
LaHood said he wants automakers to back voluntary government guidelines to ensure dashboard technologies won't distract drivers.