NORTH SCITUATE — Col. James M. Manni, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, says additional troopers have been assigned to special patrols this week to enforce the state’s texting-while-driving and hands-free cell phone use laws as part a national highway safety campaign called U Drive. U Text. U Pay.
At any given moment, about 660,000 drivers nationwide are usingtheir cell phones or manipulating electronic devices, according to a study by
“We hope this enforcement campaign will remind motorists to putdown their phones while they drive,” Manni said.
The National Safety Council estimates that at least nine peopledie and 100 are injured each day in crashes caused by distracted driving. “Cellphones, dashboard touchscreens, voice commands and other in-vehicletechnologies pose a threat to our safety,” according to the NSC.
So, NHTSA has declared April as Distracted Driving Awareness
Texting while driving is of particular concern, according toNHTSA, because the average person takes his or her eyes off the road for fiveseconds to read or send a text. When driving 55 miles an hour, that’s theequivalent of driving the entire length of a football field with your eyesclosed.
“Taking your eyes off the road for even a split second greatlyincreases the risk of getting involved in a crash,” Colonel Manni said. “Ourgoal is to remind everyone to put down their phones, avoid distractions anddrive safely.”
Rhode Island laws prohibit texting while driving as well as theuse of hand-held cell phones and other communication devices while driving.Anyone found talking or texting on a hand-held device faces fines up to $100and/or a license suspension up to 30 days.