• Apr 8th 2010 at 11:29AM
  • 48
The NHTSA is combatting distracted driving – Click above to watch the video

Starting on April 8 in Syracuse, NY and April 10 in Hartford, CT, drivers who are caught using a cell phone behind the wheel can expect to get a little more familiar with the local justice system. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has given the official go-ahead on a pilot program aimed at curbing distracted driving, and police in those localities will be pulling over anyone they see texting or using a cell phone without a hands-free device.

They've even come up with a catchy slogan for the crackdown: "Phone in one hand. Ticket in the other." Residents in the greater Syracuse and Hartford areas have likely been seeing a number of ads urging drivers to put down the phone since the first of April. You can check out one example after the jump. Law enforcement will be monitoring driver behavior over the course of the program to determine whether or not a nation-wide campaign will be worth the government's money.

Speaking of dollar bills, the federal government has put up $200,000 for both localaties, matched by $100,000 from each state. If the program goes national, you can bet we'll see quite a bit more cash flow out Washington. Check out the full press release and a video after the jump.

[Source: Distraction.gov]

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Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces First Enforcement Crackdown Campaign on Distracted Driving

Pilot Programs in Hartford, CT and Syracuse, NY are Latest Effort in DOT's Fight Against Distracted Driving

WASHINGTON, D.C. - As part of its continuing effort to combat distracted driving, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is kicking off pilot programs in Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse, New York to test whether increased law enforcement efforts can get distracted drivers to put down their cell phones and focus on the road.

The pilot programs, which are similar to previous efforts to curb drunk driving and increase seat belt use among drivers, are the first federally funded efforts in the country to specifically focus on the effects of increased enforcement and public advertising on reducing distracted driving. Drivers caught texting or talking on a hand-held cell phone will be pulled over and ticketed. The message is simple, "Phone in One Hand. Ticket in the Other."

"Law enforcement will be out on the roads in Syracuse, NY, and Hartford, CT, with one simple message, if a driver is caught with a cell phone in one hand, they'll end up with a ticket in the other," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "It's time for drivers to act responsibly, put their hands on the wheel and focus on the road."

High visibility enforcement will begin in the Syracuse metropolitan area from April 8 through 17, while the crackdown in the Hartford metropolitan area will begin on April 10 through 16. Subsequent enforcement waves in both states will take place throughout the course of the year-long program.

The program will be also be supported by a paid advertising campaign that focuses on men and women up to the age of 49 and will air April 1 through April16 in the Hartford and Syracuse metropolitan areas.

Each pilot program is supported by $200,000 in federal funds and matched by $100,000 from the state. Researchers will study changes in attitudes and behavior from beginning to end and the results will serve as a model for employing high visibility enforcement, education and outreach to reduce distracted driving behaviors in other cities and states across the country.

"There is no question that high-visibility enforcement combined with effective public advertising works. We've seen the results first-hand with national campaigns like Click It or Ticket and Drunk Driving. Over The Limit. Under Arrest," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "Distracted driving is a growing problem-the numbers tell the story of these preventable tragedies."

Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that in 2008 alone, nearly 6,000 people were killed and more than a half million people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver nationwide. Almost 20 percent of all crashes that same year involved some type of distraction.

Nationwide, six states prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving and twenty-one states have enacted texting bans.

To learn more visit www.distraction.gov

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Whoever you are
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hands-free does not significantly reduce distraction.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I still see lots of people texting and speaking on their cell phones while driving. The other day a cop passed me on the freeway talking on his cell phone. So much for people obeying the new law.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why is it everytime someone gets in a car, they think they suddenly have to chat on a phone?! It's a little like telling our kid to visit the bathroom so we don't have to make an emergency pee stop every 5 blocks! Must everyone be moving when using these things? Can't they just pull into a large parking lot or rest stop and have their say safely? It surely would save a lot of lives! My stereo is set at home and on; all I have to do is increase the volume to hear it or decrease the volume to not hear it...safer than channel surfing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The law enforcement better make sure the user is actually texting or whatever, because even with a hands free device, you still need to look at your phone to dial or find the contact or whatever the case is.

      I don't believe the law was ever intended to make it so you can't TOUCH your phone at all!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I nearly fell asleep behind the wheel the other day but i had my anti sleep alarm on and it sounded so i pulled over and had a break. They are not that expensive and i got mine from NO NAP
      • 5 Years Ago
      Spending millions on an ad campaign isn't going to make a bit of difference. Look how well the anti-drug campaigns have worked. You have to hit people in their wallet. Get caught with a phone to your ear or texting while driving and you will be fined $500. It works.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Another seldom enforced law won't make any difference. No, a $500 fine won't change behavior. Get real.

        And as every single study has shown, hands-free devices are no more safe than hand-held devices.

        This is yet another "feel good" law that won't do a darn thing. These things are passed when something bad happens and idiots say "there outta be a law!"
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's a lot easier to see people texting and driving. $500 fines, enforced, would surely lower rates of behavior.
        • 5 Years Ago
        So hitting people in the wallet works? Really? How's that drug war thing going? You know, where we confiscate drug dealers houses and cars? That's completely stopped drug trafficking, right? :rolleyes:

        Get real.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Government spending doesn't have the effectiveness of public shame.

      Our society has lost all vestiges of shame, because no one is allowed to react negatively to anything anymore. It isn't politically correct.

      Maybe if SHAME could be brought to bear, people would think twice about acting irresponsibly, due to the shame they would bring on themselves due to that irresponsibility.

      But that would require thought, caring, and discernment. Things that have been destroyed in our culture, in favor of the nanny-state spending other people's money to try and replicate those results, based on government-induced pseudo-morality, which is very dangerous concept, and at odds with liberty.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "The right wing loves fictional forces (God? The Free Market?)."

        The left wing has their share of fantasy: Global warming, "Change", Government knows best
        • 5 Years Ago
        You're right observations made with scientific rigor and confirmed through peer review are just fantasy. Just trust god and the free markets to make things work out. Don't trust those pesky observations.
        • 5 Years Ago
        1st... I didn't mention God, nor the Free market, nor any conservative commentator in my post... I called for people to discern and extend disapproval for inappropriate behavior. How is that a false premise?

        If you want to go there, lets.

        Everything in the natural world that science studies that points to a creator and a natural law. Nothing but human arrogance denies that and suggests random development of complex systems that humans couldn't contemplate, let alone execute, if we were expected to. GOD puts the signature of creation on EVERYTHING. Disbelieve at your own peril. I stand on God's side, not against God.

        Sinful men did not come up with an objective moral order. They couldn't have, and can't live up to one. Not me, not you, not any person who has ever lived. Yet moral order exists, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not. Right is right, wrong is wrong.

        Economics is the study of human interaction as it pertains to creating and trading value, time, and talent, and is informed by it. Economics doesn't define interaction. The laws of economics, and the free market system were derived from the natural way in which humans interact with each other outside of the family unit. Deny and obstruct default human behavior at your peril. I study it to understand and take part in it, and contribute to it, not to destroy it or act in defiance of it which hinders the ability of people to interact.

        If you want to start quoting science... you had better figure out what science actually reveals. It doesn't contradict what I have said. What I say is borne out by reality, of which science is the methodology of study. A methodology of study that is wholly inadequate to address the extra-natural origins of this natural system, btw. That is where faith and philosophy comes in.

        But you folks can continue to reject reality and substitute your own ignorant, limited understanding, if you like. You'll continue to be wrong, and closed to actual learning.

        My understanding of reality is informed by learning what I previously didn't know, and constantly evaluating what I do know against hypothetical evidence presented and tested. You know... the scientific method...

        So far you guys haven't offered any challenge, or any new information that I haven't already considered and rejected as inaccurate. As soon as you present something that bears up to reality, I'll ammend my understanding. Good luck. It hasn't happened so far.
        • 5 Years Ago

        I actually agree that laws against distracted driving are absurd and redundant. Reckless Driving already covers a lot of these bad behaviors. Enforce the laws we already have!
        • 5 Years Ago
        The right wing loves fictional forces (God? The Free Market?). I wonder if it is because, some will feel shame, and desist shameful actions while others will take full advantage of the fact that shame in no way affects their life, and will just do whatever they want (extremely rich people, and large corporations). I wonder what kind of shame Massey Coal is feeling right now? Probably not much.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Telegram...it's not god. It's Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh who they have unfettered belief in.
      • 5 Years Ago
      You know the 'socialist-fearing' types will be coming out now.

      All I have to say is when my tax dollars are paying for emergency response personnel, healthcare costs and/or my life/property is threatened by someone else's stupidity I give the government my blessing to crack down on such behavior.
        Geo. Dornham
        • 5 Years Ago
        LUIS, you SAID it! I'M with YOU!!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Have fun giving up every bit of your life, liberty, and property for that.

        This stuff is going to have to be paid for. You will be working for the government like a slave, under their regulatory thumb, and dependent on them for everything by the time you get what you want.

        How can you be so dense as to not see the end result of what you ask for.

        Paying for emergency services (which is usually municipal or state-wide, not federal.) is not the same as government throwing money they don't have, at anything and everything.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The other day I got picked up from JFK airport in a Lincoln Navigator. Sitting up high I saw an idiot on the left texting while driving on the Southern State Pkwy, one of the most dangerous roads in the state. At the same time, looking right, there was another idiots doing the same thing. Unbelievable.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If these dangerous behaviors are to be stopped, then a simple ticket is not good enough. Make the penalties as harsh as DUIs and ENFORCE them and many may stop (eventually). It will also take some 'do-gooder' group to be created - ala MADD for booze.

      Maybe something like Drivers Against Mobilephone Navigators... or something actually clever and apt.
        • 5 Years Ago
        How about "AEAT". Auto Enthusiast Against Touchscreens
      • 5 Years Ago
      I say bring over the UK ad and call it a day. Sure most will complain but it sure will get the point across.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Agreed, or the Ausie ads, dang those will drive a point home, not to mention laws against phone use while driving in all states.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Federally funded."

      That should be considered a four letter word, in all but the specifically constitutionally mandated and limited role of the federal government.

      GET A CLUE, you washington morons... WE'RE OUT OF MONEY!!!!

      These people make shop-a-holic hoarders who are living in a hovel of their own junk, and maxed-out on credit card debt, look mentally well adjusted.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This in an investment to lower the amount we spend, it is designed to decrease the number of accidents. Less accidents means less cops, firefighters, and emergency response going out to the scene. Less accidents means less wear and tear on the roads. Less accidents means people getting to their jobs to earn money, to stores to spend it, to their friend's/family's house to see them.

        And frankly, it's a one time cost of $200k. That is how much we spend per hour in Iraq and Afghanistan. If this saves 10 lives a year for the next 10 years, it will more than pay for itself.
        • 5 Years Ago

        You cannot spend more money to spend less money. It never has worked, and it has never saved any money. Cutting spending, and cutting taxes has worked every time that it has been tried.

        Prove it.

        And isn't it the Department of Justice, and the IRS's job to enforce the law, rather than to spend more and more money on things like health-care that the IRS is going to be enforcing?

        Health-care paid for by reducing medicare fraud... HOW ABOUT ELIMINATING THE FRAUD FIRST, and then we'll talk.

        If there is fraud out there that isn't being prosecuted, then the executive branch is woefully incompetent, and negligent in their duties. Why should we expect them to be competent with anything else?

        The government is the problem, not the answer.

        The government that governs appropriately the least, governs best. It is called LIBERTY, Get a damn clue before you call for the wage slavery of the the US Citizenry to pay for your pet projects, and continue to let bureaucratic red tape foster more and more endemic, systematic fraud.

        If any private citizen or business was trying to do what the government was doing, they would be breaking just about every rico statute, embezzelment, racketeering, and fraud statute that there is. Organized crime WISHES it were as effective at those things as the government is... and they insert themselves or their influence into government for that reason.

        How many government officials have gotten FAR richer during their terms than their government pay schedule can account for?

        How the hell are we supposed to trust them to be our moral and ethical arbiter, and our money dispensary?

        Trust them? It will be a cold day in hell before I even think about starting to trust them, with their track record of corruption.
        • 5 Years Ago
        How can we be out of money? just print more greenbacks.
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