LEADWOOD – The Leadwood Police Department has pledged to join the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s campaign “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All” in an effort to educate drivers about the dangers of distracted driving. According to officers the focus of the campaign will be to get drivers informed.
“People really don’t how serious distracted driving is until they read the statistics and see how many accidents and fatalities are involved,” said Leadwood Police Officer Shawn Eudy. “Basically what we are doing throughout October is trying to make people aware of the problem.”
In Missouri, it is illegal for drivers age 21 and under to send, read or write text messages while driving on Missouri roads. It is illegal to use a cellular device, unless equipped with a hands free accessory, in a commercial vehicle while in service. It is also illegal to use a cell phone while driving a school bus or in a commercial capacity carrying nine to 15 passengers.
“We are going to be watching people and their driving habits a lot closer. If we see someone swerve we are going to make traffic stop and find out the reason. A lot of people are DWI in that case, but a lot of them are distracted and that’s the reason they are crossing the lane and we hope to cut down on that,” Eudy said.
In 2010, 3,092 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and an estimated additional 416,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. That same year, 11 percent of fatal crashes were reported as distraction-affected crashes.
While anything that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or mind off the task of driving is a hazard, there is heightened concern about the risks of texting while driving because it combines all three types of distraction – visual, manual and cognitive.
“Distracted driving doesn’t just include texting or talking on your cell phone. It could be eating or drinking something or talking to your passenger. Reading or looking at a map, even messing with your radio are distractions,” said Eudy
The national distracted driving effort focuses on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness and education – the same activities that have curbed drunk driving and increased seat belt use.
For more information about distracted driving, visit www.distraction.gov or the Leadwood Police Department at 573-562-7337.
Pat Pratt is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.