Arkansas law enforcement agencies have joined the national “U Drive U Text U Pay” campaign to stop distracted driving. Agencies have pledged their support to help spread the message that distracted drivers are not only a danger to themselves, but everyone on the road.
During 2014 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.
“Everyone should know that using cell phones while driving is considered distracted driving,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “In addition to enforcing the state’s distracted driving law, we also want to educate drivers about the dangers of cell phone use and other distractions while operating a motor vehicle.”
During the coming days and weeks, Arkansans will be exposed to television, radio, and social media messages that have been created to remind drivers of the dangers associated with distracted driving.
“We hope that everyone will get the message and understand the risk of injuries and death caused by distracted driving, then change their driving habits,” Colonel Bryant said.
Anything that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off the task of driving is a hazard. Texting while driving only increases the risks because the process combines all three types of distractions – visual, manual and cognitive.
Regardless of the driver’s age, Arkansas law prohibits the use of a hand-held mobile device for texting, emailing or accessing the internet while driving. It is also a “primary offense” law, which means a law enforcement officer can initiate a traffic stop without observing any other violation.
Drivers should be aware of all state laws related to distracted driving, particularly related to the prohibition of using a hand-held cell phone while traveling through school or highway work zones. All drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers 18 to 20 years using a cell phone are required to use a hands-free device.
The national distracted driving effort focuses on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness and education which are the same tools that have been used to curb drunk driving and increase seat belt use.