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Distracted Driving Risks Targeted This Month by NHTSA Campaign

A National Distracted Driving Enforcement campaign has been launched this month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), using advertisements and aggressive ticketing protocols that are designed to encourage drivers to stop texting while operating an automobile. 

The “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” campaign was announced on April 2, by the U.S. Transportation Authority’s Secretary Anthony Foxx, who stated in a press release that from April 10-15, state and local law enforcement agencies will aggressively ticket drivers who are texting or using their mobile devices when behind the wheel.

Secretary Fox said the campaign is being launched in response to statistical findings that at least 3,154 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2013, most of which were believed to have been distracted while texting or using a mobile device. The NHTSA’s findings also indicated that an additional 421,000 people were injured in automobile accidents in 2013 in all “distraction-affected” incidents.

According to the NHTSA, the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” campaign will spend an estimated $5 million nationwide on television, radio, and digital advertising which will run from April 6, through April 15. The advertising will remind the public of the deadly consequences of distracted driving.

In addition to the advertising campaign, state and local police agencies will be aggressively ticketing motorists who are texting or using mobile devices when behind the wheel. Fox announced the financial penalties for violating state distracted driving laws will cost drivers the amount of the fine, but could very well have saved the drivers and someone else’s life.

The NHTSA found that ten percent of all drivers between 15 and 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the accident, making this age range the largest proportion of drivers involved in crashes in 2013. The NHTSA’s report indicated 244 teenagers between 15 and 19 years old were killed in car accidents in 2013, and those numbers do not include occupants of the other vehicles involved in the accidents. The findings also indicate that 480 non-occupants, mostly pedestrians, were killed by distracted drivers in 2013.

“Young people need to understand the dangers of texting and driving before it kills them or someone they love,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in the press release. “It’s up to us as parents to set the right example by never texting and driving ourselves, and by laying down the law for our young drivers: no texting behind the wheel or no keys to the car.”

To date, 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging while driving for all drivers. Fourteen of those states and territories prohibit drivers from usingany handheld devices while driving.

In a study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers found teens who text while driving are more likely to engage in riskier behavior, like drinking, not wearing a seatbelt or riding with a driver who is intoxicated.

Last month, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health indicated that states with bans on texting while driving saw significant reductions in auto accident injuries.

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