National Briefs: Drivers should hang up, AAA says

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WASHINGTON -- More than 40 percent of people between 19 and 39 years old say they text while they drive, and 10 percent of them say they do it regularly. More than half of those in a new survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety say they talk on their cellphones while driving.

"Using your phone while driving may seem safe, but it roughly quadruples your risk of being in a crash, according to previous research," said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. "None of us is immune from the dangers of distracted driving. The best advice is to hang up and drive."

The number of roadway deaths linked to distracted driving in 2012 dropped slightly to 3,328, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That's 32 fewer than in 2011, when NHTSA said distracted driving was to blame for 10 percent of all crashes and 387,000 injuries.

It has been estimated that 660,000 Americans use electronic devices while driving at any moment during daylight hours.

Senate confirms Johnson

WASHINGTON -- The Senate Monday evening confirmed Jeh C. Johnson as the secretary of Homeland Security.

Mr. Johnson's nomination was held up in the Senate fight over filibusters. In the end, however, his appointment was approved, 78-16, after the relaxed filibuster rules forced by the Democrats allowed a final vote.

Mr. Johnson, 56, will fill the vacancy left by Janet Napolitano, a former governor of Arizona. She resigned in July to lead the University of California system.

4 out of Guantanamo

WASHINGTON -- Two Saudi men held by the United States without trial for nearly 12 years at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been repatriated, the Pentagon said Monday.

In addition, a Sudanese news agency reported that its government expects the last two Sudanese nationals at Guantanamo to be flown on an American aircraft to Khartoum, arriving by Wednesday morning.

If those transfers take place, they and the just-completed Saudi transfers would reduce the detainee population to 158.

Also in the nation ...

Four buildings on Harvard University's campus in Cambridge, Mass., were evacuated Monday after police received an email claiming explosives were hidden inside. But after hours of searches and disruptions to final exams, no suspicious devices were found. ... An evening of shopping ended in horror for a New Jersey couple Sunday when the 30-year-old husband was shot to death in a Short Hills, N.J., mall parking garage as his wife looked on and the two assailants then drove off in their luxury SUV. ... A man accused of killing a 9-year-old neighbor had built a snowman with her hours before she was reported missing in Wooster, Ohio, police said Monday. Jerrod Metsker, 24, was arrested Sunday, about 12 hours after deputies found Reann Murphy's body. He also had joined a search for her, a neighbor said.


-- Compiled from news services


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