LaHood was in Illinois for a summit with government leaders. LaHood said that in 2009, distracted drivers caused at least 5,500 deaths and 450,000 injuries. He said it's believed those numbers are much lower than the actual totals.
LaHood called for stringent laws and consistent enforcement against distracted drivers. "That's the reason I call this an epidemic, because we all own these and we all think we can use these any time any place and anywhere and it's just created a lot of bad behavior behind the wheel of a car," he said.
LaHood says 30 states have outlawed texting while driving-- and eight have banned hand-held cell phone use by drivers.