SWAR deputies targeting distracted drivers through Monday, April 12

Texarkana

Miller County, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – Deputies in Miller County are taking part in an effort to step up enforcement of those who are texting and driving.

The campaign, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Highway Traffic Safety Administration, continues through Monday, April 12.

If you’re caught texting while driving in Arkansas, deputies say you face a $240 fine. “Sometimes those crashes … they end in a fatality, so we just need to be cognizant of that and just be aware of our surroundings … try not to be texting and driving … it’s not worth it,” said Sgt. Jessie Grigsby of the Miller County Sheriff’s Office.

“Typing a text message or reading one while driving and all the other distractions occurring inside a moving vehicle have become lifestyle practices leading to life threatening consequences,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “A driver taking their eyes off the road for five seconds while traveling at 55 miles per hour covers the length of a football field,” Colonel Bryant stated.  “The time and distance factors create a deadly formula, leaving a driver with little if any time to safely avoid a collision.”

Across the nation, officials said between 2012 and 2019, over 26,000 people died in crashes involving distracted drivers. “We just ask the public if they would just please be aware .. texting and driving, it’s not safe,” Grigsby added.  

Arkansas State Police said millennials and Gen Z drivers are statistically more prone to talk, text and scroll through social media posts on their phones while operating a motor vehicle.  According to a NHTSA study, drivers 16 to 24 years old, were observed using handheld electronic devices more frequently than older drivers.  During 2019, drivers 15 – 19 years old comprised 9% of those killed in vehicle crashes while driving distracted.   

The Arkansas Highway Safety Office and NHTSA urge drivers to put their phones away when behind the steering wheel.  Whether traveling across town or cross country, drivers are encouraged to practice these tips when it comes to electronic messaging:

•  If you’re expecting a text message or need to send one, get off the road or highway.  Pull into a safe location away from traffic, then handle your messaging.

•  Ask a passenger to be your “designated texter.”  Allow the passenger to access to your phone for calls or messages.

•  Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.

•  Cell phone use is habit forming.  If you struggle with the practice of avoiding text messaging while driving, activate the device “Do Not Disturb” feature, or place the phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of the vehicle until arriving at your destination.

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