Watertown Police Joins Effort to Stop Motorists from Texting While Driving

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The Watertown Police Department will partner with 202 other eligible local Massachusetts law enforcement agencies and the Massachusetts State Police in the national “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” mobilization to crack down on motorists who text and drive.

The campaign, which combines traditional and innovative enforcement strategies, is funded by a federal grant administered through the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s Highway Safety Division (EOPSS/HSD) from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“Texting while driving is illegal, and a major problem in Massachusetts. We are trying to keep the public safe by fining violators,” said Watertown Police Sgt. David Sampson.

Texting while driving was outlawed in Massachusetts effective September 30, 2010. Adult drivers who write, send, or read electronic messages or browse the Internet while driving face a $100 fine for a first offense – even if the vehicle is stopped in traffic. Juvenile operators are entirely prohibited from using mobile phones and other electronic devices while driving, including to make phone calls.

The fine for a juvenile first offense is $100 and includes a 60 day license suspension and required completion of a driver attitudinal course.

In 2014, across the United States, 3,179 people were killed and an additional 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. A 2013 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) found that any activity that diverts a driver’s eyes from the road for two seconds or more, such as texting or otherwise manipulating a mobile device, increases crash risk by a factor of three. This level of impairment is similar to driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08.

“Texting while driving causes motorists to take their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off the task of driving; these actions substantially increase the likelihood of a crash,” said Sgt. Sampson.

The U Drive. U Text. U Pay. mobilization begins on April 8, 2016 and continues through April 29, 2016.

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