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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Transportation kicked off National Distracted Driving Awareness Month with the "U Drive. U Text. U Pay." campaign.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is part of the DOT, is asking law enforcement officers across the country to look for drivers who are texting or using their smartphones behind the wheel.
The "U Drive. U Text. U Pay." enforcement campaign, now in its fifth year, is supported by a $5 million national media buy. The ads are in both English and Spanish and will appear on television, radio and digital platforms targeting motorists aged 18 to 34—those who are most likely to die in distraction-affected crashes.
"Cell phones have a place in our lives, but not while driving," said NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King. "Everyone should understand the very real dangers of texting while driving. Taking your eyes off the road for a moment is all it takes to cause a crash and change lives forever. Remember, no text or call is worth a life."
In 2016, NHTSA data shows, at least 3,450 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, including those who were texting and driving. Key statistical findings in NHTSA's new 2016 Distracted Driving Research Note and Teen Distracted Driver Fact Sheet.
To prevent tragedies due to distracted driving, motorists are urged to:
Currently, 47 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. All but four have primary enforcement laws—an officer may cite a driver for using a handheld cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place and be given a fine.
Fifteen states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving. Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia ban all cell phone use by novice drivers, and 20 states and the District of Columbia prohibit it for school bus drivers.
To read the AMA position statement on Distracted and Inattentive Vehicle Operation, click here.