Feds Stepping Up Enforcement of Distracted Driving Laws in Two Cities

The Obama administration today launched what it describes as the first federal push for increased enforcement of distracted driving laws, funding local police crackdowns in two northeastern cities aimed at drivers using hand-held cell phones. 

The law enforcement boost, which begins today in Hartford, Connecticut, and on Saturday in Syracuse, New York, is modeled after similar federally funded projects to curb violations of seat-belt and drunk-driving laws.

“There is no question that high-visibility enforcement
combined with
effective public advertising works," National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) chief David Strickland said in a statement on
the project. "We’ve seen the results first-hand
with national campaigns like ‘Click It or Ticket’ and ‘Drunk Driving.
Over
The Limit. Under Arrest’.”

Both of the pilot cities for the distracted driving crackdown are receiving a $200,000 grant from the U.S. DOT to schedule several periods of stepped-up enforcement throughout the year. Any driver spotted using a hand-held cell phone in either metro area will be pulled over and ticketed, according to the U.S. DOT.

Advertising campaigns highlighting the risk of texting or phoning behind the wheel are also slated for broadcast in Hartford and Syracuse this month.

The new policing push would have no effect on drivers using earpieces with cell phones, despite recent studies showing that hands-free phone use behind the wheel represents a risk equal to hand-held devices and that distracted driving laws targeting only hand-held phone users may produce scant safety benefits.

  • Every time a car comes flying up to a stop sign/light, I glance in their car and 80% of the time they are looking down and texting. I see it more and more lately. People think that cars are just moving living rooms and that everyone else should get out of their way.

    And here in California, I still see MANY MANY drivers on their cell phones. And as a biker, I sit up high enough to see down and over into many cars and see the cell phone is still very present and highly visible. No enforcement means no one will follow these laws.

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