WASHINGTON -- Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he will keep distracted driving at the top of his agenda despite critics who say the department should focus on other safety issues.
LaHood said Thursday the department would not be deterred by "false choices" between fighting distracted driving and addressing other safety issues.
Groups such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have questioned whether texting bans and restrictions on using handheld cell phones reduce crashes.
Thirty states and the District of Columbia prohibit drivers from texting behind the wheel. Eight states have passed laws barring drivers from using handheld cell phones.
The government estimates that 5,500 people were killed in 2009 in distracted-driving crashes.
LaHood says he will discuss distracted driving with Ford and Chrysler executives in Detroit next week.