As part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Chief Marc Haslam announces that the Swansea Police Department is conducting heightened distracted driving patrols.
April is designated as Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the National Safety Council. The department received a Municipal Road Safety Grant from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s Office of Grants and Research (OGR) to increase the number of distracted driving patrols during Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and for May’s national Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign.
“The Swansea Police Department aims to conduct heightened distracted driving patrols year-round, and with the assistance of the Municipal Road Safety Grant, we will be able to allot additional patrols through the months of April and May,” Chief Haslam said. “During this time, it is our goal to have extra patrols that are focused on fostering and maintaining safe roadways within our community by cracking down on distracted driving and proper seat belt use.”
Massachusetts has had a Safe Driving Law effective as of September 2010. The law bans sending, typing or reading electronic messages to or from handheld devices. The first offense is a $100 fine, the second offense is a $250 fine plus mandatory completion of a distracted driving educational program, and the third or subsequent offenses are $500 fines plus insurance surcharges and mandatory completion of distracted driving educational program.
While violating Massachusetts’ distracted driving laws can be costly, it can also be deadly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 42,915 people died on roadways in 2021. Included in those numbers were 3,142 individuals who died in a distraction-affected crash, which accounted for 8% of all motor vehicle crash fatalities.
Safety tips for driving relating to using a mobile device include:
- If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location. Once you are safely off the road and parked, it is safe to text.
- Designate your passenger as your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
- Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.
- Struggling to not text and drive? Activate your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature, or put your cell phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of your vehicle until you arrive at your destination.
- When you get behind the wheel, be an example to your family and friends by putting your phone away. Just because other people do it does not mean texting and driving is “normal” behavior. Instead, it is a selfish, deadly and, oftentimes, illegal activity that could kill you, a loved one, a friend or a stranger.
- In 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, texting while driving is illegal, and you can be ticketed. You could end up paying a hefty fine.
- If you see someone texting while driving, speak up. If your friends’ text while driving, tell them to stop. Listen to your passengers: If they catch you texting while driving and tell you to put your phone away, put it down.
- Remember, when you get behind the wheel, put your phone away. U Drive. U Text. U Pay.
For more distracted driving safety information please visit the NHTSA’s website here.