Law enforcement officers across Arkansas have pledged their united support by participating in the national awareness campaign to stop Distracted Driving. "U Drive – U Text – U Pay" is both an educational initiative and enforcement effort to keep distracted drivers off the road.
Distracted drivers aren't just a threat to themselves; they're a danger to everyone else on the road. Safe driving means driving without distractions. Any activity that takes your attention from driving is a hazard. Such distractions as talking or texting on a phone, eating, drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, adjusting the navigation or audio systems are among the most common distractions.
“We can’t say it enough, distracted driving is a life or death issue,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor's Highway Safety Representative. “What people need to understand is how dangerous it is to take your eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel.”
Distracted driving research confirms it only takes a few seconds for a child to run into the street or for a driver to miss a red light or stop sign leading to a crash that may leave someone dead. During April drivers will see an increased law enforcement presence on the roadways. Anyone who is caught texting and driving will be stopped and a citation will be issued.
Arkansas law prohibits the use of a hand-held cell phone for texting, typing, email or accessing the internet while driving, regardless of the driver's age. It is also a "primary offense" law, which means a state trooper, police officer or sheriff's deputy can initiate a traffic stop without observing any other violation.
The national distracted driving effort focuses on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness and education. Arkansans can expect to see messages on television, radio, online ads and social media that have been created to remind drivers of the dangers associated with distracted driving.
“Too many drivers are ignoring their responsibilities behind the wheel,” Colonel Bryant said. “Do the right thing. Put your phone away when you pull away onto a street or highway.”
Distracted driving continues to gain recognition across the nation as a deadly problem. In 2016 alone, 3,450 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
Drivers should be aware of all state laws related to distracted driving, particularly related to the prohibition of using a hand-held cell phone while traveling through school or highway work zones. All drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers 18 to 20 years using a cell phone are required to use a hands-free device.
For more information on distracted driving issues, visit www.Distraction.gov, www.TrafficSafetyMarketing.gov or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136. For more on Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visit www.TZDarkansas.org.