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Delaware to join month-long crack down on motorists' cell phone use

Delaware Public Media

Drivers during the month of April may want to think twice before punching in a text, reading an email or playing another round of Candy Crush Saga behind the wheel.


Police departments in 11 municipalities across the state, in conjunction with the state police, will be intensely monitoring cell phone use among motorists from April 10 to 15 and again from April 23 to 27. This is part of a nationwide effort taking place during April, or Distracted Driving Awareness Month, to crack down on cell phone use among drivers. If a driver is caught holding a cell phone behind the wheel, the first ticket costs $106, and then can go up to $300 if caught multiple times afterwards.


Since 2011, when Delaware’s ban on handheld cell phone use went into effect, community relations officer Alison Kirk says the state’s Office of Highway Safety has been keeping track of cell phone related incidents. In 2011, there were 147 cell phone related crashes in Delaware. In 2014, there were 166 on the record.


Kirk said the consequence of texting while driving can be tremendous.


“You’re taking your eyes off the road so that the couple of seconds where you’re not paying attention, it could lead to a crash," said Kirk. "You could hit another car or hit something else, so you’re putting others at risk as well.”


Kirk also acknowledged that people today are more attached to cell phones than ever, especially young drivers, but motorists should resist the temptation to check their phones.


"You don’t always have to be paying attention what’s happening on Facebook and Twitter," said Kirk. "Though I know a lot of people get their news from smartphones, we need to take a minute for ourselves, put that phone away, and just pay attention to the task at hand.”


The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently released a study that indicated that distracted driving is behind 58 percent of teen vehicle crashes. Additionally, a study conducted by University of Michigan in 2012 reported that a quarter of teenagers respond to a text message once or more every time they drive.


Nemours/A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children will be holding an event on April 1 to raise public awareness of distracted driving.


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