HALIFAX– Early last week, Halifax Police Chief Edward Broderick announced that his department was one of 202 local law-enforcement agencies to receive a grant from the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) administered by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s Highway Safety Division (EOPSS/HSD) to combat texting while driving and distracted driving.
Local police along with State Police and other law-enforcement agencies from across the Commonwealth and the country will use the grant money to fund “traditional and innovative” enforcement activities during a “crack-down” period on distracted driving from April 8 through April 29. Broderick stated that he would make any specifics of the campaign public.
Although the Plympton Police department was not eligible for the grant due to changes in highway-safety grant funding formulas implemented during the Patrick Administration, the Plympton Police force is “hyper-vigilant” for all forms of driving infractions, including texting while driving, distracted driving, seatbelt violations and inspection sticker violations, according to Chief Patrick Dillon.
Distracted driving can include anything from fiddling with the car radio to talking on your cell phone, which although not explicitly forbidden, can get you a ticket if it is affecting your driving.
Texting while driving was outlawed in Massachusetts in 2010, according to EOPSS. Drivers who write, send or read texts can be hit with a $100 fine. Teen drivers under 18 years of age are prohibited from using cell phones or other electronic devices at all while driving, including to make phone calls. The fine for a juvenile first offense is $100, a 60-day license suspension and required completion of a driver re-training course.
In 2014, across the United States, 3,179 people were killed and an additional 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, according to the state.
Plympton Chief Dillon suggests that if you absolutely must use your phone during the course of a trip, to pull over to a safe spot, out of the way of traffic so as not to create a hazard, such as a parking lot, and conduct your business there and not while on the road.
He also suggested simply putting the cellphone away and not using it until you’ve reached your destination, the safest option according to him.