DATE: Saturday, April 01, 2017
SUBJECT: Increased Enforcement Scheduled for April Distracted Driving Awareness Month
RELEASE NUMBER: 2017-NR-030
CONTACT: Lt. Noah Robinson
AUTHORITY: Sheriff David Wedding
Throughout April the Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Office and the Evansville Police Department will be participating in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
“Driving while distracted represents at least as serious of a threat to public safety as impaire driving. Like drunk driivng, distracted driving is a completely preventable cause of serious injury and death," said Sheriff Dave Wedding. “By conducting enforcement as well as education, we hope to change driver behavior and as a result prevent highway fatalities.”
Indiana law prohibits drivers from typing, transmitting or reading a text or email message while operating a motor vehicle. Throughout April sheriff's deputies and police officers will not only be looking for texting violations, but will be watching for moving violations that are indicative of distracted driving.
“Every death or serious injury that occurs because of distracted driving is a preventable tragedy," said Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin. “Texting, emailing, searching, browsing, reading, posting... whatever you choose to call the behavior, using a mobile device while driving it not just irresponsible, it is deadly." Chief Bolin added, "Sheriff Wedding and I are asking all motorists to put away their their phones and help us save lives.”
According to NHTSA, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving at any given moment during the day. Nationally, in 2014 alone, motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers claimed 3,179 lives and injured 431,000 people. Additional research shows that 10 percent of drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as being distracted at the time of the crash.
Increased enforcement of distracted driving related traffic laws will take place throughout April. Enforcement funding is provided by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) through a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.