The federal government is giving $550,000 to Connecticut and Massachusetts for pilot projects to crack down on people who text while driving.
Each state is getting $275,000 grants to develop “high-visibility anti-texting enforcement programs,” which will include stationing police spotters on highway overpasses looking for motorists who can’t keep their fingers off the keypad.
“We have come a long way in our fight against distracted driving, but there is still much work to be done,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Tuesday in announcing the grants.
“Texting behind the wheel is especially dangerous, which is why we’re working with states like Connecticut and Massachusetts to address this important safety issue.”
The money will be used to develop and train police officers on better methods for spotting texting drivers, and to develop media campaigns that alert the public to the dangers of texting and driving.
The Department of Transportation says distracted driving has become even more dangerous with the proliferation of cellphones. In 2010, more than 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving crashes that included texting, talking on a cellphone, eating and drinking, grooming, and other activities.
The agency cites research that found drivers who use handheld devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted, according to research.
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