From April 10-15, 2014, law enforcement agencies across the country will be cracking down on motorists who drive and text as part of the national “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”  high-visibility enforcement  campaign. This effort combines periods of intense enforcement of anti-texting laws coupled with advertising and media outreach to let people know about the enforcement and convince them to obey the law.

Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways. According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nationwide in 2012, more than 3,328 people were killed, and approximately 421,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation is leading the effort to stop texting and cell phone use behind the wheel. Since 2009, two national distracted driving summits have been held  helping to achieve banned texting and cell phone use for commercial drivers, encouraging states to adopt tough laws, and launch several campaigns to raise public awareness about the issue.

Ironically, just last month the Colorado House voted down a stricter anti-distracted driving bill.  House Bill 1225 would have prohibited the use of phone apps while driving and barred drivers from taking calls on hand-held devices.  The use of a Bluetooth-type device would have been acceptable.

Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, was the primary sponsor of the defeated bill that would prohibit the use of phone apps while driving, and also bar drivers from taking calls on hand-held devices.

According to the bill, the violation would be a secondary offense that could be applied only if the driver were stopped for a separate driving infraction. However, if law enforcement caught an individual using a cellphone in a school or construction zone, it would be a primary offense. Violations consisted of fines capped at about $100 — an amount some lawmakers said needed to be increased.

In 2009, Colorado lawmakers passed a measure that bans texting while driving. Twelve states, including California and Oregon, ban all drivers from using hand-held cellphones while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  No state bans all cellphone use for all drivers.

For more information on how to keep America’s roadways safe from distracted drivers, please visit www.distraction.gov.

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