Distracted driving accidents may be reduced by fines

Earlier this week we discussed a police crackdown on drunk driving through the use of saturation patrols and checkpoints. This is an effective way of preventing drunk driving car accidents and keeping dangerous drivers off of  roads.

The effectiveness of drunk driving crackdown measures has inspired traffic safety experts focused on the problem of texting and driving. Early anti-texting and driving campaigns were failures despite high publicity. A recent federal study has found that adopting a model of saturation patrols and checkpoints has a tangible impact on the number of distracted drivers using cell phones.

Examiners analyzed the impact of high profile enforcement efforts at test sites in New York and Connecticut. Over 9,500 citations were issued to drivers talking or texting on cell phones during four enforcement times last year. Surveys and cell phone use indicators showed that texting while driving declined by a third at the New York test site and that texting while driving decreased approximately three-quarters at the Connecticut. The Connecticut site also showed a 57 percent decrease in hand-held phone use.

“These findings show that strong laws, combined with highly visible police enforcement, can significantly reduce dangerous texting and cell phone use behind the wheel,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.

“The success of these pilot programs clearly shows that combining strong laws with strong enforcement can bring about a sea change in public attitudes and behavior,” said David L. Strickland, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which spearheaded the program and led public safe driving education efforts. The NHTSA survey sought to determine whether drivers were educated about their state laws restricting texting while driving behind the wheel.

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