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Delaware is serious about stopping distracted driving

In the state of Delaware, cell phone-related vehicle accidents keep occurring at an alarmingly steady pace. The U.S. Department of Transportation funded an anti-distracted driving campaign in 2012-2013, but collisions related to mobile phone use have continued to grow.

To curb this trend, a coordinated effort to crack down on distracted driving is underway. Aided by an advertising campaign, it includes participation from several police departments throughout the state.

More than texting to blame

According to the Delaware State Office of Highway Safety, there were more than 600 traffic accidents that involved cell phone use between 2012 and 2015. In this state, making a call when you are behind the wheel is only permissible using hands-free technology; it is illegal for a driver to talk or type on a hand-held device. Texting while driving is not the only issue. At the same time that they are operating vehicles, people are putting up posts on social media, reading their email or Facebook posts, or even taking selfies with their cell phones.

Increased law enforcement

Since 2008, an average of 113 people have died each year in Delaware traffic accidents. Driver distraction has been a problem for years, but the use of cell phones has come to the forefront in this category. In the new crackdown effort, law enforcement officers representing 14 police departments will be looking specifically for drivers using mobile devices.

Covering the airwaves and internet

Ironically, a driver checking Facebook while out on the road might just see something about distracted driving, because the Delaware ad campaign includes FB posts. Paid advertisements also appear on local radio stations as well as on Pandora, the online music app.

Likely offenders

According to a four-year study undertaken by the Office of Highway Safety, drivers under the age of 30 cause 55 percent of all cell phone-related car crashes in Delaware. Men are responsible for 60 percent of those accidents. In August of 2016, the governor of Delaware signed a law that doubled the fines for people charged with using a cell phone while driving. First offenders must pay $106. For a second offense, the fine increases to $350. Either way, it is a small price to pay for an irresponsible act that, in a matter of seconds, could cause serious injury or death.

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