April campaign reminds students not to text and drive


Jessica PellegrinoGeneral Assignment Reporter 

“U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY.”

That’s the new campaign slogan illuminating orange highway signs. The campaign, an effort brought by the collaboration of the State Police Department and the Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety unit.

The campaign is the state’s response to text while driving, but it also attempts to raise awareness of the dangers of all forms of distracted driving.

“I commute from pretty far away, so to get to school, I spend a lot of time on the road,” said Robert DelGuidice, sophomore  commuter student. “But even with my hour long commute, I would never text and drive. My life is in my hands when I drive.”

Distracted driving refers to really anything that requires the driver to take their eyes off of the road. This can include, texting, talking on the phone, changing the radio or using a GPS without pulling over first.

The new campaign will span the month of April which is “National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.” According to Lieutenant Rob Criscuolo, a driver’s first offense will cost them $150, the second will cost $300, and the fine is $500 for habitual offense thereon after.

Texting and driving is not just an issue of the young. According to a Pew Research Center Study, “Nearly half [47 percent] of all texting adults say they have sent or read a text message while driving. That compares to one in three [34 percent] texting teens ages 16-17 who said they had ‘texted while driving’ in a Sept. 2009 survey.”

In other words, adults are just as likely, if not more likely to drive under distracted circumstances.

DelGuidice said he has seen the effects of texting and driving on countless different occasions.

“I have heard about texting and driving in the news, obviously, but I will sometimes witness it when I am driving too. Sometimes a person will swerve a little or jerk their car. They are definitely driving distracted,” said DelGuidice.

According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2011, nearly one in five crashes [17 percent] in which someone was injured involved distracted driving.

Lilyann Comfort, junior, said texting and driving is a serious problem that needs to be changed.

“I think it is definitely a problem,” she said. “I know a lot of people who do not text and drive but I also see it a lot when I’m driving. Thankfully I have never been in an accident because I was texting but there have been a couple close calls, especially since my car is so small. If you’re texting it is really easy to not see me.”

Comfort believes in situations like hers, she could get injured by other people driving while distracted, even if she herself is following the rules of the road.

“Maybe this campaign will help a little bit but I think most people tend to think they will never get caught [when they drive distracted] so it is not important is anyway. I am also not sure how many people are aware that the fines and fees have gone up,” said Comfort.

Extra police patrolmen will be on the roads this month to catch as many distracted drivers as possible during the campaign.

Photo Credit: Intel Free Press

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