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Campaign aims to reduce texting while driving PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, April 08, 2014 11:06 AM

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PUTNAM COUNTY — Motorists from all over the country are reminded that April is the national distracted driving awareness month and from April 10-15, law enforcement personnel will use a combination of traditional and innovative strategies to crack down on motorists who text while driving.

This effort is a part of the national “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” high-visibility enforcement (HVE) campaign that combines periods of intense enforcement of anti-texting laws with advertising and media outreach to let people know about the enforcement and convince them to obey the law.

“People need to know that we are serious about stopping this deadly behavior,” said Michael Chandler, Putnam County Sheriff. “Driving and texting has reached epidemic levels and enforcement of our state texting law is part of the cure.”

Violating Ohio’s texting law, which became effective on August 31, 2012, can be costly. Violation of this law can result in a fine up to $150 and possible driver license suspension for 60 days.

In 2012, there were 3,328 people killed and 421,000 injured nationwide in distraction-affected crashes. The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute reports that a quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive, and 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.

“When you text while driving, you take your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel and mind off the task of driving. That puts everyone else’s lives in danger and no one has the right to do that,” said Mike Klear, Putnam County Safe Community Coalition.

The successes of the “Click It or Ticket” and “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaigns have proven that the combination of tough laws, targeted advertising and high-visibility enforcement can change people’s risky traffic safety behaviors. This strategy was implemented as part of the “Phone in One Hand. Ticket in the Other” distraction demonstration effort in Hartford, Conn., and Syracuse, NY, in 2010 and 2011, and then to Delaware and Sacramento County in 2012 and 2013. In both projects, texting (and cell phone use) declined dramatically. Based on these encouraging results, DOT has developed the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” national campaign.

“We’re serious about enforcing texting laws. If you drive and text, you will pay,” said Chandler.

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