FREEHOLD, NJ - Fifteen days after the first warnings were issued as part of a countywide distracted driving campaign dubbed Unplugged and Alive, over 1,700 people have logged on to the website to view the video illustrating the fatal consequences of the deadly distractions, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
“In just the past 15 days, over 1,700 people have become keenly aware of the consequences of distracted driving after logging on to unpluggedandalive.com and watching the video “The Last Text,” said Gramiccioni. “The obvious deadly consequences contained in the video can’t be ignored and people are responding.”
The video begins with a highway patrolman retelling the events of a car crash involving a young girl scheduled to graduate from high school the following day and progresses to her sister talking about sending her a text that eventually is believed to be the cause of the crash and the young girl’s death. From there the video weaves other stories about how distracted driving effects people – from the victims who are left with a lifetime of physical injuries to families left with nothing more than memories and guilt – all because they were engaged in distracted driving.
On October 1, Law enforcement officers across Monmouth County were provided an additional ticket book for the month of October in an effort to bring awareness to distracted driving and the deadly effects it can have on drivers and their families. The Unplugged and Alive Distracted Driving Campaign is a program instituted by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, in cooperation with the Monmouth County Association of Chiefs of Police and supported by the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders. The campaign urges all county residents and people who work in Monmouth County to “Take The Pledge” not to text or talk on a cell phone without a handheld device while driving.
“It is more important than ever to pay attention to the road and stay focused on driving in this day of multi-tasking and distractions,” warned Monmouth County Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Lori Linskey, who spearheaded the Unplugged and Alive project for the Office.
Since October 1, law enforcement officers across the county have been issuing warnings from distracted driver ticket books. Anyone found driving while distracted may be issued a summons warning providing them 15 days to log onto the campaign website at unpluggedandalive.com where each ticketholder is prompted to securely include their pertinent information and to watch a video detailing the horrific effects of distracted driving. If they comply with the terms of the warning, no summons is issued. If they do not comply, the driver receives a motor vehicle summons for the distracted driving offense.
“These more than 1,700 people each represent the potential for tragedy, if they don’t heed the lessons-learned from this video. But the video can’t be ignored and the images can’t be wiped from your memory. We all have a stake in making our roads safer, so everybody needs to put the phone down and nobody will get hurt,” said Monmouth County First Assistant Prosecutor Marc C. LeMieux.
About nine people are killed each day in the United States in a distracted driving incident, and more than 1,150 people are injured in crashes involving a distracted driver, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“Police officers across the county are focused on making the Unplugged and Alive Distracted Driving Campaign a success,” explained Aberdeen Police Chief John T. Powers, president of the Monmouth County Police Chiefs Association. “Don’t do it. Don’t get lured into looking at your cell phone. Don’t worry about those texts coming in to your phone. Don’t worry about anything but driving. The call or the text message can wait because it is important to arrive at your intended destination unplugged and alive.”
In 2012, 171.3 billion text messages were sent in the US every month, according to CTIA—The Wireless Association. Texting has become so important in our method of communication, the average American now sends or receives more than 40 texts per day, and those in the 18-24 age group are texting more than 100 times a day, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers are four times more likely to get into a serious car crash when using a hand held device while driving.
According to the NHTSA, 10 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash, and drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes.
A study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, in cooperation with the NHTSA, and released last month, found:
· Text messaging, browsing and dialing resulted in the longest duration of drivers taking their eyes off the road.
· Text messaging increased the risk of a crash or near-crash by two times and resulted in drivers taking their eyes off the road for an average of 23 seconds total.
· Activities performed when completing a phone call (reaching for a phone, looking up a contact and dialing the number) increased crash risk by three times.
· There is no direct increased crash risk from the specific act of talking on a cell phone. However, visual-manual tasks (locating the phone, looking at the phone and touching the phone) are always involved when using a hand-held cell phone. This makes the overall use of a hand-held cell phone riskier when driving.
· Even portable hands-free and vehicle-integrated hands-free cell phone use involved visual-manual tasks at least half of the time, which is associated with a greater crash risk.
For more information about the Unplugged and Alive campaign visit unpluggedandalive.com