This week is the national “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” high-visibility enforcement effort with law enforcement officers from across the country working together to enforce laws banning texting while driving as well as distracted driving.
The Chadron Police Department is one of the agencies taking part. Sgt Patrick Young says the department is getting a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through the Neb. Dept of Transportation Office of Highway Safety
Sgt Young says distracted driving has become a leading cause of traffic accidents with texting while driving a major part of that.
Federal data shows 26,004 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver between 2012 and 2019. Deaths related to driver distraction increased 10% in 2019, the largest increase among causes that year.
Young says people know texting and driving is dangerous and illegal, but often give themselves “a personal exemption” to do it anyway, which unfairly puts others at risk – adding that this week, those who text and drive will pay.
Millennials and Gen Z are the most common distracted drivers, often using their cell phones to talk, text, and scroll through social media while behind the wheel.
According to 2019 Traffic Safety Administration figures, 9% of people killed in accidents with teen drivers died in crashes when those drivers were distracted.
Violating Nebraska’s distracted-driving laws can be costly. There’s a $200-500 fine for using a handheld communication device while driving plus 3 points are added to your driving record.
Drive Safe Every Trip
Sergeant Young and NHTSA urge drivers to put their phones away when behind the wheel. If you need to text, pull over and do not drive while doing so. If you are the driver, follow these steps for a safe driving experience:
• If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location. Once you are safely off the road and parked, it is safe to text.
• Ask your passenger to be your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
• Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.
• Cell phone use is habit-forming. Struggling to not text and drive? Activate your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature, or put your phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of your vehicle until you arrive at your destination.
Texting while driving is dangerous and illegal. Break the cycle. Remember: U Drive. U Text. U Pay. For more information, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/campaign/distracted-driving.