The Arkansas State Police says they will be upping their enforcement as it pertains to distracted driving from April 5-12.
The effort is part of a national campaign called “U Drive. U Text. U Pay,” which is an annual high visibility event led by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“Typing a text message or reading one while driving and all the other distractions occurring inside a moving vehicle have become lifestyle practices leading to life threatening consequences,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “A driver taking their eyes off the road for five seconds while traveling at 55 miles per hour covers the length of a football field,” Colonel Bryant stated. “The time and distance factors create a deadly formula, leaving a driver with little if any time to safely avoid a collision.”
According to the NHTSA, from 2012-19, 26,004 people died in motor vehicle crashes that involved distracted drivers. While motor vehicle crash fatalities nationally decreased slightly during 2019, there was a 10 percent increase in crashes involving drivers who had been distracted. Nine percent of all traffic fatalities were linked to distracted driving. The figures represent a 10% increase, 284 deaths, over the previous year and accounts for the largest increase among contributing factors in traffic crash deaths reported.
While the enforcement is geared more towards texting and using social media while driving, officers may pull over individuals who take their eyes off the road and veer into another traffic lane or the shoulder.
The NHTSA says that Millennials and Gen Z drivers are statistically more prone to talk, text, and scroll through social media while driving. Drivers 16 to 24 years old, were observed using handheld electronic devices more frequently than older drivers. During 2019, drivers 15 – 19 years old comprised 9% of those killed in vehicle crashes while driving distracted.
Here are some tips from the Arkansas State Police on how drivers should handle their phones while driving:
• If you’re expecting a text message or need to send one, get off the road or highway. Pull into a safe location away from traffic, then handle your messaging.
• Ask a passenger to be your “designated texter.” Allow the passenger to access to your phone for calls or messages.
• Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.
• Cell phone use is habit forming. If you struggle with the practice of avoiding text messaging while driving, activate the device “Do Not Disturb” feature, or place the phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of the vehicle until arriving at your destination.