Distracted Driving Enforcement Demonstrations: Lessons Learned

Distracted Driving Enforcement Demonstrations: Lessons Learned

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  • Abstract:
    At any given daylight moment in America in 2017, some 481,000 drivers were using cell phones while driving. In that year 3,166 people died in crashes involving distracted drivers. In 2015 there were 391,000 people injured in distraction-affected crashes. In 2016 there were 457 fatal crashes that involved drivers with cell phones. Police crash reports said that in all these fatal crashes the drivers were talking on, listening to, or manipulating cell phones. The strategies and approaches in this guide focus on the complexity of the problem and enforcement strategies to combat texting while driving and cell phone use. “Distraction” includes several serious types of driver inattention such as eating, grooming, or talking to other passengers, among other causes. Two of the most common are texting and talking on a cell phone while driving. In 2016 more than 1.939 trillion text messages (SMS and MMS kinds) were sent in the United States. This guide describes three NHTSA-funded enforcement demonstration programs held at six sites, Hartford, Connecticut, Syracuse, New York, Sacramento Valley, California, Delaware, the southwest area surrounding Danbury, Connecticut, and a suburban area north of Boston, Massachusetts. Key lessons learned describe insights and ideas for law enforcement and State highway safety offices to consider as tactics to combat distracted driving. These include spotters on overpasses and elevated roadways and using taller SUVs and trucks to get better elevated observation angles. Police know texting offenders frequently commit traffic violations such as lane departure, traveling too slowly, or weaving on high-speed highways. Targeted enforcement using stationary patrols, spotters, and roving patrols also result in high levels of observed violations.
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