Guest Blogger – Chief Howard Hall, Roanoke County Police Department
In the April edition of Police Chief, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx stresses the importance of “good laws, tough enforcement, and increased public awareness” as being the most effective way to reduce dangerous driving behaviors in the United States. This strategy has shown great success in campaigns targeting major traffic safety issues such as impaired driving and driving without a seat belt. Secretary Foxx is now asking law enforcement officials to join DOT and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in employing similar methods to address distracted driving.
The advent of technologies designed to make our lives easier and more efficient has also introduced alarming and unprecedented traffic safety concerns. Although distracted driving has always been a traffic safety issue, a growing number of potential driver distractions has made it a primary concern for law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and law makers. According to NHTSA, “Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.” This finding is especially alarming when you consider that approximately 660,000 drivers are using their cell phones or other electronic devices at any given moment.
In support of Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the DOT initiative against distracted driving, I urge law enforcement agencies to learn from the activities of other agencies and the DOT Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other campaign to further bolster enforcement and education efforts within their communities.
To assist these efforts, the National Law Enforcement Challenge (NLEC) provides law enforcement agencies the opportunity to showcase and earn recognition for their exceptional traffic safety and distracted driving prevention efforts and provides a platform to learn from other agencies in order to better establish future goals in traffic safety enforcement and education. Apply online before May 1 to be considered for the 2014 NLEC at http://www.theiacp.org/nlec.
For more information on the national distracted driving prevention effort, resources, and tips on how to get involved, please visit http://www.distraction.gov.