In an attempt to stop texting while driving, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is funding a program in Massachusetts that will station police on highway overpasses to spot drivers texting while driving.
The traffic safety administration is giving $550,000 for Massachusetts and Connecticut to “help them plan and conduct high-visibility anti-texting enforcement programs,” according to the federal agency.
“Each state will receive $275,000 to develop and train police officers on better methods for spotting drivers who are texting, and to develop media techniques that alert the public to the perils of texting and driving,” according to the transportation agency.
Some of the techniques that will be tested in the program are stationary patrols, spotters on overpasses and roving patrols. The program will test each technique’s effectiveness over a 24-month period, according to the feds.
“We have come a long way in our fight against distracted driving, but there is still much work to be done,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Texting behind the wheel is especially dangerous, which is why we’re working with states like Connecticut and Massachusetts to address this important safety issue.”
Massachusetts is one of 39 states in the country that ban texting while driving. There are also 10 states with laws that prohibit handheld cell phone use when driving, which is easier for police to spot, according to the highway agency.
“While it is relatively easier for law enforcement to determine illegal handheld cell phone use by observing the position of the phone at the driver’s ear, the dangerous practice of texting while driving is often not as obvious,” NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said. “These two new demonstration programs will help identify real-world protocols and practices to better detect if a person is texting while driving.”