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Great Hang Up: Enforcement, Info cut distracted driving

3:08 PM, Jul 14, 2011   |    comments
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As it stands now, Florida is in the minority when it comes to distracted driving legislation.  There are no laws on the books banning texting or cell phone use while driving.

New research finds those laws can actually work--if they're enforced and if drivers are aware of them.

The Department of Transportations worked with two cities--Syracuse, New York and Hartford, Connecticut--to try and cut back on distracted driving.  Both states have laws on the books.

Through federally-funded programs, entitled "Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other," media coverage of the laws were increased and police beefed up enforcement.

During four periods of increased enforcement, police wrote a lot of tickets.  In Syracuse, there were 9587 citations.  Hartford saw 9658 tickets.  Before and after each push, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration observed cell phone use and did public awareness surveys.

In Syracuse, both texting and hand-held cell phone use dropped by 32%.  In Hartford, the results were even larger-texting dropped by 72% and cell phone use by 57%.

"The success of these pilot programs clearly show that combining strong laws with strong enforcement can bring about a sea change in public attitudes and behavior," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "We applaud the work of the men and women of the Syracuse and Hartford police forces, and call on state legislatures, law enforcement and safety advocates across the nation to follow their lead."

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