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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

U.S. DOT Looking for Answers to Enforce Texting Laws

The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it is providing $550,000 for programs in Connecticut and Massachusetts that will explore options for the successful enforcement of texting while driving bans. Each state will receive $275,000.

Prior enforcement experiments conducted in Hartford, Connecticut, and Syracuse, New York, found that it is more challenging to detect a driver texting behind the wheel compared to drivers talking on a handheld device. The vast majority of tickets issued under those programs were for handheld phone use , about five percent of the citations issued across both communities were for texting violations.

The demonstration grants call for Connecticut and Massachusetts to develop anti-texting enforcement protocols and techniques such as using stationary patrols, spotters on overpasses on elevated roadways and roving patrols, to test their effectiveness in four successive waves of high-visibility enforcement activities over a 24-month period. The results of these demonstrations will be documented for the benefit of other states which are facing the same challenges.

"While it is relatively easier for law enforcement to determine illegal handheld cell phone use by observing the position of the phone at the driver's ear, the dangerous practice of texting while driving is often not as obvious," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "These two new demonstration programs will help identify real-world protocols and practices to better detect if a person is texting while driving."

Copyright 2012 CollisionWeek (www.collisionweek.com) – reprinted by permission from the publisher

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