There are many rules to remember when you get behind the wheel, like always wearing a seat belt, driving sober, and obeying the posted speed limit. There is one thing you should add to that list: never use your phone while you are behind the wheel.
Think about it: You’re driving down Delaware Highway 1 at 65 mph. Your cell phone rings. It takes you four seconds to fish it out of the console to see who is calling. You just travelled 380 feet with your eyes off the road.
There were 37,461 lives lost on America’s roadways in 2016, and almost 10 percent of those fatalities were distraction-related. When we think of distracted driving, the first thing that comes to mind is texting while behind the wheel: As a driver, your priority should only be the road in front of you.
That’s why the Office of Highway Safety is staging our high-visibility media campaign entitled “Don’t be the You You Hate.” Let’s face it, we all hate to see others texting or talking on their phones (without a hands-free device), seemingly unaware of the other drivers around them. Yet, many of us are guilty of doing the same. From February 27 through March 16, 2018, OHS will be funding increased law enforcement presence on Delaware’s roads. Police will be on high alert to also enforce distracted-driving laws. Drivers caught using a hand-held device will be fined $100 for their first offense. Subsequent offenses will be $200 and then $300. Remember: U Drive. U Text. U Pay.
As a driver, it’s your responsibility to keep yourself, your passengers, and those around you safe on the road. The best way for you to protect everyone is to keep both hands on the wheel, and your eyes and concentration on the road – not an electronic device. If you need to send a text, ask your passenger to be your “designated texter,” or pull off in a safe location to use your phone. The consequences of distracted driving can be disastrous and costly.
While the problem spans all age ranges, texting and driving has become an especially problematic trend among millennials. According to NHTSA, young drivers 16 to 24 years old have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers since 2007.
In 2016, there were 3,450 people killed and 391,000 people injured because of this deadly behavior. We urge Delaware drivers to make smart choices; don’t use your phone or anything else that can be distracting while behind the wheel. Spread the message. If you see someone distracted behind the wheel, share the statistics, dangers, and your concerns. The best messengers for teens are their peers, so encourage your teen to share the stats with their friends if they see them engaging in unsafe behavior. Remember, don’t be the you you hate.