The U.S. Department of Transportation is stepping up its efforts to reduce distracted driving caused by the use of electronic devices with a new “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving.” The new publication proposes a strategy for curtailing the use of handheld cell phones behind the wheel.
At the same time the new plan was announced, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood also announced tht California and Delaware will receive a total of $2.4 million to expand enforcement of the “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other” campaign.
“Distracted driving is an epidemic,’ said LaHood. “While we’ve made progress in the past three years by raising awareness about this risky behavior, the simple fact is people are continuing to be killed and injured – and we can put an end to it. Personal responsibility for putting down that cell phone is a good first step – but we need everyone to do their part, whether it’s helping pass strong laws, educating our youngest and most vulnerable drivers, or starting their own campaign to end distracted driving.”
The “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving” builds on the nationwide movement that LaHood and USDOT have spearheaded for the last three years by:
Nationwide, 39 states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam ban texting behind the wheel. Ten states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam prohibit all hand-held cell phone use while driving.
California and Delaware, which have strong laws governing a driver’s use of cell phones and other electronics, are going to use federally funded pilot projects to test the impact of increased law enforcement and high-profile public education campaigns on distracted driving. The programs call for crackdowns on violators combined with with paid advertising and news media coverage. California’s program will focus on eight counties and 3.8 million residents in the Sacramento Valley region; the Delaware program will run statewide. Both projects are expected to be in action this fall.
The new projects build on the strategies used last year in smaller-scale programs in Hartford, Connecticut, and Syracuse, New York. As a result of stepped-up enforcement and public awareness campaigns, texting dropping 72 percent in Hartford and 32 percent in Syracuse.
“We know from the success of national efforts like ‘Click It or Ticket’ that combining good laws with effective enforcement and a strong public education campaign can – and does – change unsafe driving behavior,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “Now, along with two great state partners, we’re using this proven formula to help tackle distracted driving.”
To learn more about NHTSA’s efforts on distracted driving visit www.distraction.gov.