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MDOT Supports National Campaign Against Distracted Driving

Jackson, MS - In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in the United States by motor vehicle crashes involv­ing distracted drivers. An estimated additional 424,000 people were injured, all because someone was texting while driving. The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) recognizes this serious issue and supports initiatives that build awareness in our local communities and makes traveling through the state safer for all motorists.

Law enforcement personnel are using a combination of traditional and innovative strategies to crack down on motorists who text while driving. This effort is a part of the national “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” high-visibility enforcement campaign that runs from April 10 to April 15 and combines intense enforcement of no texting while driving with advertising and media outreach to let people know about the enforcement and convince them to obey this rule.

Currently, all school bus drivers are banned from cell phone usage and drivers with a permit or intermediate license are banned from texting while driving in Mississippi. This summer, House Bill 389 will officially ban texting and posting on social media for all motorists. H.B. 389 was signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant in March and will take effect on July 1.

“Texting and driving requires motorists to take their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel and mind off the task of driving,” said Melinda McGrath, MDOT Executive Director. It creates the proverbial ‘perfect storm’ for a crash. Putting someone else’s life at risk for the sake of texting a friend or posting on social media is not only dangerous but should be avoided entirely.”

The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute’s 2012 “Teen Driver Distraction Study” reports that a quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive, and 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.

The U Drive. U Text. U Pay campaign is national in scope, and has qualified for and received approximately $8.4 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation to support this and other efforts designed to fight distracted driving.

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