Anyone who drives is likely guilty of doing something besides just keeping their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road at all times. Maybe it’s drinking a cup of coffee, eating a sandwich, changing the radio station, talking on the cell phone or texting while driving.
According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. Nearly 330,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving.
In an effort to reduce the number of crashes by distracted drivers, area police departments will be cracking down.
The first part of a two-phase initiative - “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” - is already under way. Officers will be looking for distracted drivers and enforcing the state’s cell phone laws as part of the campaign through the end of April. The second campaign will be held in August.
“Drivers are continuously ignoring their responsibilities behind the wheel, and distracted driving is a growing and deadly threat on our roadways,” Bristol Lt. Todd Kozaryn said.
Motorists hit with a cell phone violation could be fined $150 for their first offense, $300 for a second offense and $500 for each subsequent offense.
While we support law enforcements’ concerted efforts during the targeted campaign to catch and ticket violators, we believe those who text and drive are putting others on the road in as much danger as a drunk or drug impaired driver.
Studies have shown that people who text and drive take their eyes off the road for an average of 30 seconds. That doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but it takes even less than 30 seconds to swerve into the opposite lane of travel, hit a stopped vehicle at light or strike a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
There is no text message so important that it can’t wait until a motorist has parked their vehicle.
Cell phones have become viewed as a necessity and for some an addiction. They help us stay in touch with loved ones, store our photos, deliver emails and help us organize our lives. But drivers should never choose convenience over safety. The consequences could prove deadly.