DOT Video Drives Home the Toll of Distracted Driving

The Transportation Department this week released its latest video aimed at putting an end to the "tragic consequences of texting and cell phone use while driving."

The video is the eighth in DOT's "Faces of Distracted Driving" series, which was launched in October 2010 to dramatize the often deadly consequences of texting or talking on a cell phone while driving. In 2009, nearly 5,500 Americans died and 500,000 were injured in accidents involving a driver distracted by texting, talking or other such activities. The numbers are not statistics, but rather parents who lost children and children who lost parents, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in January .

In the new video released Tuesday, Miss South Dakota Loren Vaillancourt talks about losing her then 21-year-old brother Kelson in May 2009. In the accident, Kelson was riding with a co-worker to a job site. The co-worker was distracted, failed to yield at a stop sign and drove into oncoming traffic, where his vehicle was struck by a tractor-trailer. Kelson died the following day.

"I applaud Loren for the work she is doing to raise awareness about the deadly cost of distracted driving," LaHood said. "I hope that everyone who hears Loren speak about the tragic loss of her brother Kelson will remember to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel."

LaHood has been on a self-proclaimed "rampage" to discourage distracted driving for nearly two years.