Delaware receives money to tackle distracted driving

A Delaware pilot program designed to encourage drivers to put away their cell phones is now getting federal support, this is all in an effort to reduce distracted driving.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made his way to Dover Thursday afternoon to announce $900,000 of funding to expand Delaware’s “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other” pilot campaign.

Transportation officials with the Delaware Office of Highway Safety aren’t wasting anytime either when it comes to using the money. In fact, in the next two weeks, $300,000 will be used for three waves of enforcement. The first event has already been scheduled and will take place September 18th.

“By raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, we help prevent needless crashes and keep Delaware’s roads safer. Safer roads mean people get to jobs, schools, and businesses without delay and without injury,” said Gov. Jack Markell (D-Del).

Meanwhile, $400,000 will go toward public service announcements and the rest will support project evaluations.

Since January 2, 2011 when Delaware implemented its hand held cell phone law, more than 10,000 citations have been issued to drivers.  Such citations can cost violators a hefty fine, requiring them to pay a $106 fine and even more money if they’re a repeat offender. Prior to the state ban on hand held cellular devices, law enforcement officials say cell phone distraction caused 199 crashes in 2010. By May of this year, nearly 50 crashes were blamed on distracted driving.

Delaware is only one of two states that received the federal money for the “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other” pilot project.

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