WASHINGTON, D.C. — To kick off National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Thursday announced the Department of Transportation's first-ever national advertising campaign and law enforcement crackdown to combat distracted driving.
As part of the effort, television, radio and digital advertisements using the phrase “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” will run from April 7 to 15, which coincides with a nationwide law enforcement crackdown in states with distracted driving bans.
"This campaign puts distracted driving on par with our efforts to fight drunk driving or to encourage seat belt use," Foxx said. "Across the country, we're putting distracted drivers on notice: If you're caught texting while driving, the message you receive won't be from your cell phone, but from law enforcement — ‘U Drive. U Text. U Pay.’”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 3,328 people were killed and 421,000 were injured in distraction-related crashes in 2012. The new ads remind the public of these consequences, as well as the penalties for getting caught violating state distracted driving laws.
The $8.5 million national advertising campaign supports the first-ever national distracted driving high-visibility enforcement crackdown, which will run from April 10 to 15. Officials said that thousands of law enforcement personnel nationwide will use “traditional and innovative strategies” to crack down on motorists who text and drive.
The national campaign builds on the success of two federally funded distracted driving state demonstration programs that took place in California and Delaware: “Phone in One Hand. Ticket in the Other.”
According to the Department of Transportation, data from the distracted driving demonstration programs in California and Delaware show that effective advertising coupled with increased high-visibility police enforcement of distraction laws reduced hand-held phone use over a widespread area.
Over three enforcement waves, California police issued more than 10,700 tickets for violations involving drivers talking or texting on cell phones, and Delaware police issued more than 6,200 tickets. Observed hand-held cell phone use dropped by approximately a third at each program site, from 4.1% to 2.7% in California and from 4.5% to 3.0% in Delaware.
Currently, 43 states ban text messaging for drivers of all ages. Twelve states prohibit drivers of all ages from using hand-held cell phones while driving, and 37 states ban cell phone use by novice drivers.