NHTSA releases interim data on ‘Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other’ campaign

At the 2010 National Distracted Driving Summit two days ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released interim data from its pilot enforcement programs currently underway in Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse, New York.

Carrying on with a catchy title – ‘Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other‘ – the year-long pilot campaigns were launched in April to test whether increased law enforcement efforts combined with public service announcements can make a difference in getting distracted drivers to put down their cell phones and focus on driving.

NHTSA said that during a two week-long period of stepped up enforcement, police in Hartford have written approximately 4,956 tickets and Syracuse police have given out 4,446 tickets for violations involving drivers talking or texting on cell phones. Prior and after each enforcement wave, NHTSA conducted studies of driver cell phone use and collected public awareness surveys at driver licensing offices.

Based on these observations and surveys, the use of cell phones in cars has dropped 56 percent in Hartford and 38 percent in Syracuse to date. Texting while driving has declined 68 percent in Hartford and 42 percent in Syracuse.

“Good laws are important, but we know from past efforts to curb drunk driving and promote seatbelts that enforcement is the key,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Our pilot programs in Syracuse and Hartford are critical pieces of our overall effort to get people to realize distracted driving is dangerous and wrong. I want to commend the police in Hartford and Syracuse for their excellent work keeping our roads safe and serving as a model for other communities.”

– By: Omar Rana