“Phone in One Hand. Ticket in the Other,” is the latest campaign against distracted driving being implemented by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) in Hartford, Conn., and Syracuse, N.Y., this month. The pilot programs are designed to test whether increased law enforcement efforts can get distracted drivers to put down their cell phones and focus on the road.
Drivers caught texting or talking on a hand-held cell phone will be pulled over and ticketed. “It’s time for drivers to act responsibly, put their hands on the wheel, and focus on the road,” said USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood.
High visibility enforcement was scheduled to begin in the Syracuse metropolitan area April 8-17, while the crackdown in the Hartford metropolitan area will take place April 10-16. Subsequent enforcement waves in both states will take place throughout the course of the year-long program.
In 2008 alone, nearly 6,000 people were killed and more than a half million people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver nationwide, according to research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Almost 20 percent of all crashes that same year involved some type of distraction.
“There is no question that high-visibility enforcement combined with effective public advertising works. We’ve seen the results first-hand with national campaigns like Click It or Ticket and Drunk Driving. Over The Limit. Under Arrest,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “Distracted driving is a growing problem-the numbers tell the story of these preventable tragedies.”
Nationwide, six states prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving and twenty-one states have enacted texting bans.
Photo courtesy of Richard Faulder under the Creative Commons License