Distracted Driving

The Arkansas Sate Police has enacted a plan to curb distracted drivers with a new campaign focusing on ticketing offenders.

The “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign is a joint effort between the ASP and the U.S Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This “high visibility enforcement effort” is directed at those violating the distracted driving laws.

Police and sheriff’s departments have pledged their support to the campaign in a unified effort in order to stop distracted driving. Drivers who violate distracted driving laws are a danger to themselves and to all those who travel on Arkansas roadways.

“It’s inexcusable how common it has become to see people driving while looking at their phone,” said Col. Bill Bryant, director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “That’s why Arkansas motorists can expect to see an increase in law enforcement presence on streets and highways looking for distracted driving violators who will be stopped and issued a ticket.”

According to the NHTSA, nearly 23,000 people died between 2012 and 2018 in motor vehicle accidents that occurred due to distracted driving.

“Millennials and older Generation Z drivers have become the most egregious offenders of texting while driving,” the ASP said in a press release. “A comparison of NHTSA statistics indicate that since 2007, drivers 16 to 24 years of age have been using handheld electronic devices while operating a vehicle in greater numbers of instances than older drivers have. During 2018, 8 percent of the people killed among teenage drivers (15 to 19 years old) were distracted at the time of the crashes.”

According to the American Automobile Association Traffic Safety Culture Index, in 2018 nearly 96 percent of drivers said they believe it was very or extremely dangerous to read a text message or an email while driving, however 4 out of 10 drivers admitted doing it within the previous 30-day period.

“People know that texting while driving is dangerous and illegal, yet, without considering the consequences that could end in someone being injured or losing their life, they do it anyway,” Bryant said.

Arkansas law enforcement agencies and the NHTSA want Arkansas drivers to practice the following suggestions to ensure the roadways remain safe from distracted drivers:

• While driving, if expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park the vehicle in a safe location. Once the vehicle is safely off the road and parked, it’s safe to text.

• Ask passengers to be a “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls and messages.

• Do not engage in social media scrolling, reading or messaging while driving.

• Cellphone use is habit forming. Activate the phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature or place the phone in the trunk or an out of reach location until  the destination is reached.   

The campaign will last through Oct. 12.

For more information on distracted driving, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at 501-618-8136.

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