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Efforts are Underway in the DC Area and Virginia to Curb Texting and Driving

Safe driving campaigns have been in action for years – “Drive Sober or Get Pulled over,” and “Click It or Tick It” are a few of the catchy marketing names used to draw attention to the importance of safe driving. Now a new program, known as “U Drive, U Text, U Pay,” uses common texting shorthand to promote the hazards of texting while driving.

Texting and driving is a primary offense in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, meaning that authorities can pull drivers over if they’re caught with their phones in their hand. However, many drivers ignore the warnings. They assume they are the exception to the rule and can manage safe driving while sending text messages. Unfortunately, a Virginia Tech study says that texting while driving makes it 23 more times likely that you will crash. Distracted driving laws are being enacted across the country and many of these laws, much like the ones in Virginia and DC, are being ignored. Authorities are hoping the new campaign will deter drivers from texting by focusing on the punishment, more so than the dangers of the act. The average person assumes he or she will not be involved in an auto crash until it happens, but getting pulled over and fined for texting may be far more effective to curb the dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways.

Sadly, as much as drivers might believe they can safely drive while texting, federal statistics prove otherwise. According to an article on the perils of texting and driving in the April 3, 2013 edition of the Washington Post, there are approximately 420,000 roadway accidents each year related to texting and driving. In 2012, 3,328 people were killed in distracted driving crashes according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Even one fatality is one too many, in our opinion.

Threatening Drivers?

Opponents of the new law view the fines as a threat to drivers. Unfortunately, many in the transportation industry believe that is the most effective way to get through to drivers. Their goal is to keep the nation’s roads safe and if a threat is required to do so, they’re willing to take that action. Past safe driving campaigns have shown that threats are often necessary to persuade drivers to take safety measures on the road. For instance, It wasn’t until the seatbelt safety campaign changed from “Buckle Up for Safety,” to “Click or Ticket” that the use of seatbelts increased. In our society, people seem to be more reactive than proactive when it comes to changing behavior.

Programs Already Proven Effective

States that have enacted fines related to using cell phones when driving have already seen an improvement in the crash rate related to distracted driving. According to the same Washington Post article, California and Delaware saw a drop of about 1.5% of observed cell phone use after initiating a program that has already issued nearly 20,000 tickets.

Experts believe the key to reducing incidences of distracted driving is a combination of quality laws and strong enforcement. Time will tell if the “U Drive, U Text, U Pay” program will prove effective.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash and the other driver was texting, we can help. Contact the legal team at WilliamsFord to discuss the specifics of your case and find out how we can help you.

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