Gov. Markell urges drivers to keep eyes on road in weekly message
Gov. Jack Markell wants drivers in Delaware to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.
In his weekly message, Markell said police throughout the First State cite over 6,000 drivers each year for illegally using handheld devices while driving.
“And that creates distractions that not only threaten their own lives, but also those in other vehicles and the pedestrians and bicyclists who share our roadways,” Markell said.
Markell recently signed a law increasing penalties for distracted driving. The fine for the first offense increased from $50 to $100.
The next offense will cost drivers $200 and cap out at $300.
Drivers will get points off their licenses after the first citation.
Full text of Gov. Markell's weekly message:
Modern technology is amazing and there’s almost no limit to what people can do with their phones these days, but when phone use is combined with driving, the results can be deadly.
Far too many drivers use handheld electronic devices behind the wheel, and that creates distractions that not only threaten their own lives, but also those in other vehicles and the pedestrians and bicyclists who share our roadways. Each year Delaware police issue more than 6,000 citations to distracted drivers caught using handheld phones. And more than 150 vehicle accidents every year involve distractions from phone use – accidents that could have been prevented with better awareness of the roadway and better judgment by drivers.
I recently joined my friends at AAA, law enforcement officials, students, and even special guest Batman to sign a bill into law that reinforces the message that getting behind the wheel is serious business and that distractions from electronic devices can result in injury or death. It doubles the fines for using handheld devices behind the wheel, and it received strong support from legislators who recognize that traffic safety is not a partisan issue and they worked together to tackle the alarming increase in distracted driving. While we hope the threat of a one-or-two-hundred dollar ticket will make drivers think twice before picking up their phones, we know it also takes ongoing public education about the risks to convince people to change their driving habits.
So, whether you’re driving a Batmobile or a Buick, take a cue from the Caped Crusader, who secures his phone in the glove compartment before each trip. And remember to keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road at all times. We can make everyone safer when we do our part, and that will keep Delaware moving forward.