Thursday, April 8, 2010

First US Crackdown For Driving On The Phone Launched

Pilot Projects Start In Connecticut and New York State
Shipping News Feature

USA – The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is today launching its first federally funded pilot programs to see if increased law enforcement efforts can reduce levels of cell phone use amongst drivers in an effort to improve road safety.

The news will no doubt be welcomed by American trucking organisations whose members have already been subject to bans on texting and phoning whilst driving and subject to fines if caught. This had led to these bodies calling for just such enforcement as is now to be trialled, justified on the grounds that private vehicle drivers routinely cause accidents through distracted driving.

The programs, which will be running in Syracuse, New York and Hartford, Connecticut, will involve high visibility enforcement of anti-phone-and-texting measures, tactics that have previously been successful in drink driving and safety belt programs.

“Law enforcement will be out on the roads in Syracuse, NY, and Hartford, CT, with one simple message, if a driver is caught with a cell phone in one hand, they’ll end up with a ticket in the other,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “It’s time for drivers to act responsibly, put their hands on the wheel and focus on the road.”

Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that 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. 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.”