The Department of Transportation has created a national advertising campaign and law enforcement crackdown with television, radio and digital advertisements using the phrase "U Drive. U Text. U Pay." English and Spanish ads will run from April 7-15, which coincides with increased enforcement from April 10-15 in states with distracted driving bans. The campaign builds on the success of two federally funded distracted driving state demonstration programs that took place in California and Delaware.
Commercial Drivers Not ExemptCommercial drivers may be targeted along with private motorists. Employers can use this campaign as an oppportunity to remind workers of company policies prohibiting use of hand-held devices while driving company vehicles. Allowing employees to use cell phones while driving makes them four times as likely to crash, and employers are being held liable for employee accidents. Employers should consider installing No Cell Phone labels in company vehicles.
"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," said DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx.
Distracted Driving KillsThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 3,328 people were killed and 421,000 injured in distraction-related crashes in 2012. The new ads are intended to remind the public of these deadly consequences, as well as the penalties for getting caught violating the state distracted driving laws.
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 percent to 2.7 percent in California, and from 4.5 percent to 3.0 percent in Delaware.
Currently, 43 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for drivers of all ages; 12 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit drivers of all ages from using hand-held cell phones while driving; and 37 states and D.C. ban cell phone use by novice drivers.
To Prevent Distracted Driving:
- Turn off electronic devices and put them out of reach before starting to drive.
- Be good role models for young drivers. Talk with your teens about responsible driving.
- Speak up when you are a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to make the call for the driver, so full attention stays on driving.
- View the new ad.
- Download NHTSA's Traffic Tech report on the state programs. (pdf)
- View a Cell Phone Policy Kit for Employers from the National Safety Council.
- Review distracted driving laws for your state.
- Browse cell phone and texting signs and labels.