Ray LaHood will announce today that his Department of Transportation plans to convene a summit next month for safety officials, lawmakers, academics, and law enforcement representatives to examine the risks of texting while driving.
The summit comes on the heels of a new congressional proposal to prod states into bans on texting behind the wheel -- a bill inspired by researchers' recent finding that drivers are 23 tims more likely to crash while using messaging devices.
In a preview of his remarks to the AP, LaHood said that he would prefer to ban texting while driving right away, but that the nation's experience with seat belt laws shows a broad approach involving education and proper penalties needs to be part of the mix.
"When we are done" with the summit, LaHood said, "I expect to have a list of concrete steps to announce."
Verizon, the nation's largest wireless provider, is already backing the Senate bill to encourage state-level bans, though other carriers have stopped short of an endorsement.
The Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state road safety officials, remains opposed to broad bans on texting while driving, citing "the difficulty of enforcing such laws."