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Delaware Headlines

Governor, AAA, state police ask high schoolers not to drive "intexticated"

State officials, law enforcement agencies and AAA are appealing to high schoolers to stop distracted driving.

  

Gov. John Carney signed a proclamation Monday declaring April Distracted Driving Awareness Month. He also asked new drivers at Middletown High School to sign a pledge not to use their cellphones while driving.

The pledge comes from AAA Mid-Atlantic, which is launching a campaign in Delaware called “Don’t drive intoxicated. Don’t drive intexticated.”

AAA’s Cathy Rossi says distracted driving kills on average nine people per day in America and is just as dangerous as driving intoxicated. She appealed to the teens to help make it just as socially unacceptable.

“You’re in a unique position as a technologically connected driver,” she said. “You’re starting with a clean slate.”

The pledge distributed by AAA implores drivers to place their mobile devices out of sight while driving, to speak out if others are driving distracted, not to use social media, check emails or send texts while driving, and not to call or text others they know to be driving.

“This simple action can save your life, it can save the life of a family member, a classmate sitting next to you,” said Rossi.

Gov. Carney signed AAA’s pledge. He warned the students that a mere fraction of a second of distraction can cause an accident.

Middletown Police Chief Rob Kracyla says awareness is the first step in curbing distracted driving. “That’s kind of what this is all about, the educational component of it,” he said. “You take education so far, and when that’s not as effective as you’d like it to be, then enforcement becomes the next option.”

Kracyla adds his department is using analytics to identify hotspots of distracted driving and increase enforcement there.

 
Earlier this month, Delaware State Police coordinated with 14 other state police agencies along I-95 and roughly two-dozen local law enforcement agencies in Delaware for the "Drive to Save Lives" traffic initiative. The three-day enforcement effort in Delaware resulted in 113 cell phone arrests among 1573 traffic citations, according to officials. 

State police also used officers in non-traditional vehicles to crack down on distracted driving earlier this year during several concentrated enforcement efforts across the state. 

A spokesperson said last month that the state Office of Highway Safety (OHS) is partnering with local municipalities on enforcement efforts using “covert” vehicles for the first time this year.

According to OHS, there have been nearly 1,000 vehicle crashes attributed to texting or cellphone use in Delaware over the past five years, with roughly 200 in 2018.

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