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Delaware Office of Highway Safety Announces Results from Final Wave of Phone in One Hand. Ticket in the Other. Crackdown.

Date Posted: Friday, June 21st, 2013
Categories:  News Office of Highway Safety Safety and Homeland Security

Dover, DE – Today, the Delaware Office of Highway Safety announced the preliminary results of the third and final wave of the high visibility distracted driving enforcement campaign, Phone in One Hand. Ticket in the Other that ran from June 4th through June 17th.

So far, 35 municipal police agencies out of the participating 40 agencies along with Delaware State Police have reported a total of  1,562 citations issued during the third wave of enforcement. This brings the total number of Delaware cell phone citations issued as part of this campaign to 5,757.

Last June, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the Delaware Office of Highway Safety (OHS) would receive $900,000 in federal support to expand the Department’s “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other.” pilot enforcement campaign to reduce distracted driving crashes.  The grant funded three 2 week waves of enforcement, paid media to support the enforcement, and evaluation of the demonstration project.

“When the U.S Transportation Secretary came to Delaware to announce this grant last year, we promised to use the money to encourage motorists to put their cell phones down while driving,” said Governor Jack Markell.  “We have increased enforcement and decreased distracted driving, which has helped to prevent crashes and get people to their jobs, schools and businesses safely.”

Delaware law enforcement has issued over 33,000 cell phone citations since the cell phone law went into effect in Delaware on January 2, 2011.  In 2010, cell phone distraction was a contributing factor in 199 crashes, 139 crashes in 2011, and 125 crashes in 2012.

The first wave of enforcement was held November 7-20, 2012 and resulted in 2,152 cell phone citations issued. The second wave occurred April 9th through 22nd and resulted in 2,043 drivers being issued cell phone citations. Last year Delaware law enforcement officers issued a total of 13,142 cell phone citations statewide.

“Delaware law enforcement issued nearly 6,000 hands free cell phone violations during this distracted driving campaign. Just as important is the message we have sent warning drivers about the dangers of texting and driving. We will continue to use this two-prong approach of enforcement and education in order to ensure safety on Delaware roads,” Safety and Homeland Security Secretary Lewis D. Schiliro said.

Program evaluation is being conducted by an independent contractor, Preusser Research Group (PRG), which includes pre and post enforcement observation and awareness survey data collection.  PRG has observed 15 sites during each wave of enforcement and will provide an index measure that will indicate whether or not hand-held device use is changing over time.

“Preliminary evidence suggests that the program is having the desired effect on reducing hand held cell phone use while driving,” said Jana Simpler Director of the Office of Highway Safety. “We believe motorists heard our message loud and clear. Distracted driving is dangerous and they will get a ticket if they text or don’t use a hands free device while talking on their cell phone.”

Delaware cell phone law bans texting while driving as well as bans the use of hand-held cell phones.  Drivers are required to utilize hands-free technology in order to use a cell phone while driving.   It also bans the use of pagers, blackberry’s, PDA’s, laptops, games, or the use of any other electronic device by someone while driving. If you have to make a call, pull over to a safe place to use your cell phone or use a hands free device like a blue tooth.

If a police officer observes you using a handheld device while driving they can pull you over and give you a $106 fine for your first offense.  If you get caught again penalties increase and can go up to $300.  Violations do not incur points on your driver’s license.

Distracted driving consists of any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving. Nationally in 2011, 3,331 people were killed and an estimated 387,000 others were injured in crashes that involved a distracted driver. In the same year, 9,842 cell phone citations were issued to Delaware drivers using their handheld device while driving.

Delaware law enforcement teamed with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the Phone in One Hand. Ticket in the Other. campaign to step up enforcement of distracted driving laws to save lives on Delaware’s roadways. For more information on distracted driving, please visitwww.distraction.gov/delaware.

 

 

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