Two pilot programs in Syracuse, NY and Hartford, CT conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have found that strong laws along with highly-visible police can greatly reduce dangerous texting and cell phone use behind the wheel.
Both programs, funded through federal and state funds, increased police enforcement and paid media and news coverage to study whether both, along with laws, could reduce distracted driving.
During the four-period, year-long study Syracuse police issued 9,587 citations and Harford issued 9,658 for hand-held cell phone use (talking or texting) while operating a car. Before and after each period, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration watched cell phone use and conducted surveys, which found Syracuse’s behind the wheel talking and texting declined by one-third and Hartford’s dropped 57%.
“We applaud the work of the men and women of the Syracuse and Hartford police forces, and call on state legislatures, law enforcement and safety advocates across the nation to follow their lead,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.
There are plans to continue the study on a state-wide level.
Thirty-four states have enacted texting bans and nine states have banned all hand-held cell phone use.