States Crack Down on Texting While Driving As Part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and we have a new Capitol Research brief just out looking at “Enforcement of Texting While Driving Bans.” It examines the state of anti-texting statutes and recent legislative efforts around the country, as well as the efforts of law enforcement to assess strategies for catching texters in the act. But here’s a roundup of some additional related resources from around the web.

  • U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx blogged recently about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s nationwide, high-visibility enforcement campaign to crack down on texting while driving. The crackdown, which begins today and runs through April 15, comes with the simple message: U Drive. U Text. U Pay. Ashley Halsey of The Washington Post also reported on the campaign.
  • NHTSA this month released data from federally funded, high-visibility enforcement programs in California and Delaware.
  • Texas: An increase last year in the number of distracted driving crashes has prompted the Texas Department of Transportation to amp up its annual “Talk, Text, Crash” campaign this month, The Dallas Morning News reported. Although Gov. Rick Perry vetoed legislation to make it illegal to text and drive in the Lone Star State in 2011 (as noted in the Capitol Research brief), some Texas cities, including Austin and San Antonio have passed local ordinances banning texting and driving.
  • New Jersey: Sixty police departments in the Garden State are receiving $5,000 each to aid a statewide crackdown on texting with increased patrols and checkpoints, according to a press release last week from the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General.
  • The Governors Highway Safety Association had a rundown last week of what several other states (including California, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, New York and Rhode Island) are doing to support the national distracted driving enforcement campaign.
  • Payton Chung at Streetsblog USA writes that a 2012 study and a recent New York Times piece that references it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone when they reach the conclusion that “Flawed Handheld Phone Bans Don’t Stop Distracted Driving.” “A patchwork of state laws, with a majority of states only recently banning text messaging for all drivers, and the perception of scant enforcement leave most American drivers confused, or indifferent, about the bans,” writes Chung. “What will it take to disarm the menace of drivers distracted by their phones? Safety advocates, like the National Transportation Safety Board and the (National Safety Council) say that nothing short of a total ban on device use by drivers will stop the dangers of distracted drivers (and not just of cars: phone use by professional operators has also been implicated in bus, train, and boat crashes).”