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No-Texting Campaign

No Texting CampaignThe Pennsylvania Turnpike is launching a yearlong safety campaign aimed at reducing incidents of texting while driving in conjunction with the Turnpike’s 70th birthday on Oct. 1, 2010.

When the Turnpike opened 70 years ago, drivers were more likely to be solely focused on driving. But today, motorists are tempted by a multitude of distractions inside the vehicle besides controls and gauges: GPS devices, CD/DVD and MP3 players, mobile phones and portable devices like BlackBerry and IPhone, to name a few.

Unfortunately, that means more accidents result from a failure to just drive. Statistics from State Police Troop T (the unit responsible for Turnpike patrols) show that, in 2009, more than 120 Turnpike accidents were attributed to driver distraction. In the first half of this year, 93 distracted-driving accidents have already occurred. While these are not specific to texting alone, the numbers indicate a troubling trend.

Nationally, research on distracted driving reveals these facts:

  • Drivers who use handheld devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • Using a handheld or hands-free cell phone while driving delays reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah)
  • There are three types of distraction: visual (taking eyes off the road), manual (taking hands off the wheel) and cognitive (taking your mind off what you’re doing). While all distractions are unsafe, texting is most alarming because it involves all three types of distraction.
  • In 2008, more than 20 percent of all crashes involved some type of distraction. (Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA)
  • Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted driver, and more than half a million were injured. (Source: NHTSA)

No Texting CampaignMany states have enacted bans on handheld devices or texting to reduce distracted driving. To date, a texting ban has been enacted in 32 states, including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and New York. A ban on all handheld devices has been enacted in eight states, including Delaware, New Jersey and New York. And while state lawmakers weigh in on handheld and texting bills for the Keystone State, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is launching a motorist-education campaign designed to raise awareness about the dangers of texting behind the wheel. The new messages will be displayed on tollbooths, on Variable Message Signs along the road, window stickers and lawn signs at Turnpike rest stops and online at www.paturnpike.com.

The Kickoff:

Three regional press events were held on the Turnpike near Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. During the events, the commission - in conjunction with the State Police, AAA and the Pa. Motor Truck Assn. unveiled the signs encouraging drivers to steer clear of texting; the events were held the day before and the day of the Pennsylvania Turnpike's 70th Anniversary.

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