Safety: "Put the Phone Away or Pay" campaign starts

Woman using cell phone in car
Pexels photo

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration kicked off its campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving this week. 

The newly rebranded "Put the Phone Away or Pay" campaign reminds drivers of the deadly dangers and the legal consequences including fines of distracted driving.

NHTSA’s high-visibility enforcement of state distracted driving laws takes place April 4-8 with a focus on drivers aged 18 to 34 who, according to NHTSA data, are more likely to die in distraction-affected crashes than any other age group. 

The campaign launches as NHTSA released new 2022 distraction data and preliminary traffic fatality data for 2023. The latest numbers underscore the toll of being distracted behind the wheel. In 2022, 3,308 people were killed and an estimated additional 289,310 people were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers.

“Distraction comes in many forms, but it is also preventable,"  NHTSA Deputy Administrator Sophie Shulman said. "Our rebranded campaign reminds everyone to 'Put the Phone Away or Pay,' because distracted driving can cost you in fines or even cost your life or the life of someone else on the road.”

People who are walking, cycling or otherwise outside a vehicle are especially vulnerable to being in danger from distracted drivers. In 2022, 621 vulnerable road users were killed in distraction-affected traffic crashes. Despite overall declines, vulnerable road user fatality rates are increasing, and distracted driving is a contributing factor to the increase in fatalities. NHTSA’s final 2022 Fatality Analysis Reporting System traffic crash data and analysis are available online.

NHTSA also released its latest projections for traffic fatalities in 2023, estimating more miles driven and lower fatality rates compared to 2022. The agency estimates that 40,990 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2023, a decrease of about 3.6% as compared to 42,514 fatalities reported to have occurred in 2022. The fourth quarter of 2023 represents the seventh consecutive quarterly decline in fatalities beginning with the second quarter of 2022. 

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