Kansas City, MO — Local Law Enforcement is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Region 7, which includes Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska for the national U Drive. U Text. U Pay. high-visibility enforcement campaign. From April 3-10, 2023, law enforcement officers will work together to enforce texting and distracted driving laws.
According to NHTSA, 32,483 people died in distraction-affected crashes over the ten-year period from 2011 to 2020. In 2020, there were 3,142 deaths linked to driver distraction or 8% of all motor-vehicle crash fatalities. This is a slight increase in fatalities compared to 2019.
Research shows that younger drivers, particularly in the Millennials and Generation Z cohorts, are the most distracted drivers, often using their cell phones to talk, text, and scroll through social media while driving. According to NHTSA research from 2017, young drivers 16 to 24 years old have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers since 2007. In 2020, 7% of drivers 15 to 20 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted.
“Distracted driving is a leading cause of vehicle crashes on our nation’s roads, and most of this distraction is attributed to texting while driving,” said Regional Administrator Susan DeCourcy. “People know texting and driving is dangerous and often illegal, but they do it anyway, and it puts others at risk. Beginning April 3, drivers will see increased law enforcement efforts across the country and throughout our region. Law enforcement officers will be enforcing state-based texting laws to reduce distracted driving. If you drive and text, you will pay,” she added.
Many drivers are guilty of a “double standard” when it comes to distracted driving. In its 2018 Traffic Safety Culture Index, the AAA Foundation reported that while nearly 96% of drivers believed it was very or extremely dangerous to read a text or email while driving, 4 out of 10 drivers admitted to doing so within the previous 30 days. The actual rates are likely even higher.
Drive Safe Every Trip
Local law enforcement and NHTSA Region 7 urge drivers to put their phones away when they are behind the wheel. If you absolutely need to text, pull over and do not drive while doing so. If you are the driver, follow these steps for a safe driving experience:
- If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location. Once you are safely off the road and parked, it is safe to text.
- Ask your passenger to be your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
- Enter all device navigation coordinates before putting your car into drive. If you need to alter your trip, ask a passenger to make adjustments or pull over to a safe location and put your car in park first.
- Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.
- Cell phone use is habit-forming. Struggling to not text and drive? Activate your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature, or put your phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of your vehicle until you arrive at your destination.
Texting while driving is dangerous and illegal. Break the cycle. Remember: U Drive. U Text. U Pay. For more information, visit www.nhtsa.gov/campaign/distracted-driving.