Arkansas State Police to step up distracted driving enforcement April 4-11

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The Arkansas State Police say they are ramping up their distracted driving enforcement April 4-11.

The State Police will work with state and local law enforcement to encourage drivers to put down their phones while driving.

“Distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes on Arkansas roadways,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “Drivers know it’s against the law, yet the distractions are significantly attributed to texting while driving.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA], between 2012 and 2019, more than 26,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver. While fatalities from motor vehicle crashes decreased slightly from 2018 to 2019, distraction-related fatalities increased by 10%.  The statistical analysis from NHTSA also reported that the number of deaths linked to driver distraction was 3,142 nationwide, or almost nine percent of all fatalities during 2019, a 10% increase over the previous year 2018, or 284 more fatalities. The distraction figure was the largest increase in causes of traffic deaths reported for 2019.

“These drivers give themselves a personal exemption to ignore the law while unfairly putting others at risk,” Colonel Bryant commented. “Beginning April 4th state troopers won’t be issuing warnings, they’ll be writing violator citations as part of the U Text and Drive, You Pay enforcement operation.”

Here are safe ways to use your phone, if necessary, while driving according to the State Police:

•  If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location.  Only after you are off the roadway and stopped is it safe to text.
•  Ask your passenger to be a “designated texter.”  Allow the passenger access to your phone for responding to calls or messages.
•  Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.
•  Cell phone use while driving can easily become a habit.  Consider activating your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature while driving, or put the phone in the trunk, glove compartment, or back seat of the vehicle until arriving at your destination.