Enforcement, awareness effort aims to save thousands killed in distraction-related crashes
WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today kicked off Distracted Driving Awareness month, which began April 1, by announcing the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” National Distracted Driving Enforcement Campaign. From April 10-15, state and local law enforcement will aggressively ticket drivers who are texting or using their mobile devices when behind the wheel. The Secretary made the announcement in Washington, D.C., where young drivers demonstrated the dangers of distracted driving on a temporary test track. Secretary Foxx was joined by Mark Rosekind, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Distracted driving kills, there is no excuse for it, and it must stop,” said Secretary Foxx. “Across the country, we’re putting distracted drivers on notice: U Drive. U Text. U Pay. Texting and driving will at least cost you the price of a ticket but it could very well cost you your life or someone else’s.”
Based on fatal accident reports, NHTSA data shows that at least 3,154 people were killed in crashes involving all distracted drivers in 2013, including those who were texting and driving. NHTSA estimates that 424,000 Americans were injured in all distraction-affected crashes in 2013.
Key statistical findings in NHTSA’s new Distracted Driving Traffic Safety Facts and Teen Distracted Driver fact sheet include:
◾Ten percent of fatal crashes, 18 percent of injury crashes, and 16 percent of all motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2013 were reported as distraction-affected crashes, which are defined as any crash in which a driver was identified as distracted at the time of the crash.
◾Ten percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the crash.
◾244 Americans aged 15 to 19 were killed in distraction-affected crashes.
◾In 2013, there were 480 non-occupants killed in distraction-affected crashes.
“Young people need to understand the dangers of texting and driving before it kills them or someone they love,” said Administrator Rosekind. “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. These are driving safety lessons that young drivers will carry with them throughout their lives.”
The awareness effort is supported by a $5 million national television, radio and digital advertising campaign, which runs from April 6-15, and reminds the public of the deadly consequences of distracted driving, and the financial penalties for violating state distracted driving laws. Ads will run in English and Spanish.
Forty-five states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for drivers of all ages; 14 states and territories prohibit drivers of all ages from using hand-held cell phones while driving; and 38 states plus the District of Columbia ban cell phone use by novice drivers. Two states, Oklahoma and Texas, restrict school bus drivers from texting.
To prevent distracted driving, motorists are urged to:
◾Turn off electronic devices and put them out of reach before starting to drive.
◾Be good role models for young drivers and set a good example. Talk with your teens about responsible driving.
◾Speak up when you are a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to make the call for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the driving task.
◾Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are the best defense against other unsafe drivers.