One text or call could wreck it all.
We all know that distracted driving has become a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways. In 2012 alone, 3,328 were killed in distracted driving crashes. That’s why the U.S. Department of Transportation is leading the effort to stop texting and cell phone use behind the wheel. Since 2009, we have held two national distracted driving summits, banned texting and cell phone use for commercial drivers, encouraged states to adopt tough laws, and launched several campaigns to raise public awareness about the issue. With the help of our numerous safety partners, like Drive Smart Virginia, we have reached out to millions of Americans with the important message that “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All.” Currently, California and Delaware are receiving federal support to conduct pilot projects that are testing the effect of increased law enforcement and high-profile public education campaigns on distracted driving. These special grants are being overseen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and involve implementing strategies that NHTSA has found most effective in changing unsafe behavior – combining good laws with effective enforcement and strong public education campaigns. The two sites are receiving $2.4 million to support pilot programs that will examine whether increased police enforcement coupled with paid media and news media coverage can significantly reduce distracted driving over a widespread area. The California program will take place in the Sacramento valley region, comprising eight counties and 3.8 million residents, while the Delaware program will be conducted statewide. We know that from the success of national efforts like “Click It or Ticket” that these types of campaigns can, and do, change behavior. We’re confident that this proven formula can help tackle distracted driving. Both projects got started in the fall of 2012, with results expected sometime this summer. The multi-market efforts in California and Delaware mirror the approach used in smaller-scale demonstration projects completed in 2011 in Hartford, CT, and Syracuse, NY. The 2011 pilot projects found dramatic declines in distracted driving in the two communities tested – with texting dropping 72 percent in Hartford and 32 percent in Syracuse. NHTSA is also providing funding for two studies being conducted in Connecticut and Massachusetts which will attempt to identify and test strategies for reducing texting while driving. Be sure to check out our website at www.distraction.gov . You’ll find fact sheets, research, information on state laws, ways to get involved, and lots more. You can even download artwork and graphics to use in presentations or print as posters. Join the movement and help us “Stop Distracted Driving”! Elizabeth A. Baker, Ph.D. Regional Administrator National Highway Traffic Safety Administration