As we spoke about in our last post, distracted driving is the focus of many car accident prevention campaigns. As some states have adopted cellphone use and texting while driving bans, some groups have argued that the bans have caused more car accidents than the bans have prevented. Two new pilot programs may hold enough evidence to sway non-believers.
The two distracted driving pilot programs are called "Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other" and the strategies of the programs are based on the success of past programs that educated the public about the utility of seat belts and the danger of drunken driving. The pilot programs incorporate highly visible police enforcement with a public education campaign.
During four one month time periods over the last two years, the pilot programs have been operated in Syracuse, New York and Hartford Connecticut and it seems like they have been effective. Handheld phone use dropped almost 60 percent and texting while driving fell a staggering 72 percent in Hartford. In Syracuse, handheld phone use and texting while driving fell 32 percent. The declines were measured by the observations of researchers and through surveys completed by the public.
The results of the programs rung as good news to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood who has been working on building awareness around distracted driving. Naysayers of handheld phone and texting bans will likely have to confront the success of the programs too. One week before the results of the programs were released, the Governors Highway Safety Association released a report that advised states to stop creating new laws against texting and phone use until new research demonstrated the effectiveness of the laws. Additional programs based on the pilots are slated for the future.
Source: USA Today, "Distracted driving programs show success," Larry Copeland, 7/11/11
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