Matt Richtel and members of The New York Times staff won a Pulitzer Prize this week for his 2009 series, “Driven to Distraction,” about the potentially fatal threat posed by drivers who indulge in texting and other electronic distractions.

The nationwide Pulitzer Prize competition is adminstered by the Columbia University School of Journalism. Richtel won in the category of national affairs reporting for his articles describing “the hazardous use of cell phones, computers and other devices while operating cars and trucks, stimulating widespread efforts to curb distracted driving,” according to a press release issued by the Pulitzer Board.

The award includes $10,000 in prize money.

Here’s how The Times summarized the “Driven to Distraction” series on its web site:

“With virtually every American owning a cellphone, distracted driving has become a threat on the nation’s roads. Studies say that drivers using phones are four times as likely to cause a crash as other drivers. Yet Americans have largely ignored that research. Device makers and auto companies acknowledge the risks, but they aggressively develop and market gadgets that cause distractions. Police in almost half of all states make no attempt to gather data on the problem.

“Through articles, videos and interactive features, The Times has examined the risks of talking and texting behind the wheel. The series also explores the extent of the problem, its origins, and the pressures people feel to stay connected while driving.

“The series shows the political, regulatory and scientific dimensions of an issue that has prompted conversations and action across the country, from the Oval Office and statehouses to corporate boardrooms and kitchen tables.”