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Report: Agency withheld distracted driver research

NEW YORK (AP) - A published report says hundreds of pages of research and warnings about the hazards of drivers using cell phones were withheld from the public for fear of angering Congress.

The New York Times quotes Dr. Jeffrey Runge, the former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Runge says he was urged to withhold the findings because some members of Congress had warned the agency against lobbying states. He says transit officials told him billions in financing could be jeopardized.

The Times reports the research findings were obtained by the Center for Auto Safety and Public Citizen through Freedom of Information requests.

Among the findings is that driver distraction contributes to about 25 percent of all police-reported traffic crashes.

Research also found that even with hands-free devices, a cell phone conversation takes the driver's focus off the road.

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