After success with two pilot programs, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is confident that texting while driving and other handheld device use can be reduced by increased enforcement and enhanced awareness of distracted driving laws.
Recalling the successful “Click It or Ticket” seat-belt awareness programs, NHTSA launched the media campaign “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other,” in cities in New York and Connecticut. By actively observing cell phone use and monitoring public awareness before and after the campaign, NHTSA researchers concluded that cell phone and texting use by drivers fell by one-third in one city and over one half in the other.
“Based on these results, it is crystal clear that those who try to minimize this dangerous behavior are making a serious error in judgment, especially when half a million people are injured and thousands more are killed in distracted driving accidents,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a NHTSA press release. LaHood emphasized the importance of high visibility law enforcement presence to enforce traffic laws and remind drivers of the criminal consequences.
According to NHTSA, distracted driving was involved in nearly 5,500 American car and truck accident fatalities resulted from distracted driving in 2009. Yet more than a dozen states have yet to pass texting bans for all drivers.
California lawmakers have recognized the dangers of distracted driving by passing a handheld phone and texting ban for all drivers, as well as banning all cell phone use by bus drivers and novice drivers.
Regardless of the criminal consequences, drivers are negligent when they allow themselves to be distracted by cell phones or other devices. Motorists who cause car accidents and injuries due to reckless or careless behavior can be held accountable for damages by an experienced California personal injury lawyer.