Delaware Joins National Anti-Texting Effort to Save Lives

Date Posted: Monday, March 30th, 2015
Categories:  Kent County New Castle County News Office of Highway Safety Safety and Homeland Security Sussex County

Dover- April is national Distracted Driving Awareness month and from April 10 to 15, 2015. Delaware will join law enforcement across the nation to crack down on handheld cell phone use and/or texting by motorists using a combination of traditional and innovative strategies. This effort is a part of the national U Drive. U Text. U Pay high-visibility enforcement campaign that combines intense enforcement of anti-texting laws with advertising and media outreach to let people know about the enforcement and convince them to obey the law.

Delaware law enforcement will also expand their crack down on handheld cell phone use to April 23-27. Participating agencies include Camden PD, Delaware City PD, Dover PD, Georgetown PD, Middletown PD, Milford PD, Millsboro PD, New Castle County PD, Newark PD, Wilmington PD, Wyoming PD, and Delaware State Police. Delaware law enforcement have issued over 54,600 cell phone tickets since the law went into effect on January 2, 2011. Enforcement will be coupled with paid media ads and awareness activities.

Delaware’s handheld cellphone 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 ticket. The fine and fees for a first offense cell phone violation is $106. If you get caught again penalties increase and can go up to $300.

The trauma department at Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children will be offering a free distracted driving event on April 1st from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Visitors can see the consequences of distracted driving first hand when they try to navigate the distracted driving simulator. Individuals can also take the pledge to not drive distracted and receive a free gift. Visitors will also have the opportunity to hear from a local family about how a distracted driver took the life of their daughter just before her upcoming wedding.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a report looking at crash data involving thousands of teen drivers. The report finds that distracted driving contributes to 58% of teen driver vehicle crashes nationally and shows that distracted driving is more than just texting. It also highlights the importance of Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws and passenger restrictions for young drivers.

According to a 2014 special article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the risk of a crash or near-crash among novice drivers increased with the performance of many secondary tasks, including texting and dialing cell phones.

The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute’s 2012 “Teen Driver Distraction Study” reports that a quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive, and 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.

“Texting and driving requires motorists to take their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off the task of driving. It greatly enhances the likelihood of crashing and puts everyone on the road at risk,” said Jana Simpler, director for the Delaware Office of Highway Safety.

The successes of the Click It or Ticket and Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaigns have proven that the combination of tough laws, targeted advertising, and high-visibility enforcement can change people’s risky traffic safety behaviors. This strategy was implemented as part of the Phone in One Hand. Ticket in the Other distraction demonstration effort in Hartford, Connecticut, and Syracuse, New York, in 2010 and 2011, and then in Delaware and Sacramento County in 2012 and 2013. In both projects, texting (and cell phone use) declined dramatically. Based on these encouraging results, the U.S. Department of Transportation developed the U Drive. U Text. U Pay national campaign.

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