How many times have you avoided a knucklehead crossing into your side of the road? Seems to be with much more frequency. From Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen:
HARTFORD – Attorney General George Jepsen today joined a national public service campaign featuring scenes from the award-winning television series “Glee” to help educate young adult drivers on the dangers of texting while driving.
“Driving is one of the most dangerous activities for young adults. Texting while driving is a distraction that young drivers can live without,” said Attorney General Jepsen, the father of two teenage boys.
The campaign is sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the State Attorneys General, Consumer Protection Agencies, and the Ad Council, with Twentieth Century Fox Television and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
The new television and digital public service announcements (PSAs) employ a catastrophic crash scene from “Glee,” caused by texting and driving, to emphasize that distracted driving can have horrific consequences. Five seconds, the average time your eyes are off the road while texting and driving, is enough time to cover the length of a football field when driving at 55 miles per hour, according to the NHTSA.
The PSAs direct young adult drivers to the Texting and Driving Prevention campaign web site, StopTextsStopWrecks.org, where teens and young adults can find facts about the impact of texting while driving and tips for how to curb the behavior.
NHTSA reports that in 2010, more than 3,000 people were killed and an additional 416,000 were injured due to distracted driving, which includes texting while driving. The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles reported last month that since tougher teen driving laws took effect four years ago, the number of teen drivers killed in crashes dropped from 7 in 2007 to one in 2011.
However, the Connecticut DMV noted that talking on the phone or with passengers, texting, selecting radio stations and other distractions increased the risk of a serious crash.
“Drivers of any age should be aware that texting while driving may not only jeopardize the safety of themselves and others, but it can violate state motor vehicle laws against distracted driving and result in hefty fines or loss of driving privileges,” Jepsen said.
Connecticut law prohibits use of handheld cell phones and texting while driving. Fines range from $125 for a first offense to $400 for a third or subsequent offense.
For teenage drivers, the state DMV will suspend the driver’s license or learner’s permit of a 16- or 17-year-old for 30 days to six months for any conviction of violating a teen driving restriction or using a cell phone or text messaging device while driving. Those teens will have to pay a $175 license restoration fee as well as court fines.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said “Distracted driving does not just happen, it’s a choice. The first line of defense must be personal responsibility by all drivers to put their wireless devices away and keep their focus on the road, which is why we are working closely with our partners to build public awareness around this important safety issue.”
According to a new national survey conducted by the Ad Council, the message may be getting through. Thirty-four percent of respondents said that they never text while driving, a significant increase from 28 percent in 2011.
Since 2006, the Ad Council has partnered with the State Attorneys General to address reckless driving among teens. All of the new PSAs will run and air in advertising time and space that is donated by the media.
Assistant Attorney General Phillip Rosario, head of the consumer protection unit, assisted the Attorney General with this effort.