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NHTSA gets tough on distracted driving in April

The United States Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is taking April's Distracted Driving Month seriously. The agency is moving forward with a number of efforts to bring attention to the dangers of distracted driving. These efforts include:

  • Education. Getting information out to the public about the dangers of texting while driving is a primary purpose of Distracted Driving Awareness Month. NHTSA notes that 3,179 people were killed in accidents involving a distracted driver in 2014. An additional 431,000 people were injured. Although texting while driving, Tweeting, Facebook use and other cellphone use pose some of the more dangerous distractions, other activities also qualify. This can include switching radio stations, dealing with children in the backseat and eating while driving.
  • Enforcement. The agency is also part of a national enforcement crackdown called "U Drive. U Text. U Pay." Many states throughout the country, including Connecticut, have laws that make it illegal to text while driving. Violation of this law can lead to monetary penalties. During this month, the NHTSA is encouraging enforcement officers to place an extra focus on enforcing these laws and, when possible, issue citations to those who are in violation.

The United States Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx issued a statement in support of these efforts, noting that practices like "[s]crolling through song lists on a cell phone, or texting while driving [are] not just irresponsible, [they] can have tragic consequences. We're calling on drivers to put down their devices and help keep the roadways safe for all Americans."

Unfortunately, these efforts don't always translate to the end of distracting practices while driving. Drivers who get behind the wheel and choose to use their phones when they should be paying attention to the road in front of them are not just taking part in a dangerous distraction, they are breaking the law. When this practice leads to an accident that injures others, they can be held accountable.

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James L. O’Rourke, ESQ
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