Grant to catch texting and driving - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Grant to catch texting and driving

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Friday it will provide a grant to two states that will allow law enforcement to better train to spot people texting and driving.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's NHTSA will provide $275,000 to each Connecticut and Massachusetts to develop anti-texting programs. The goal is to train police to spot drivers who are texting.

According to experts, it can be hard to detect if a driver is texting, or doing something like looking up directions on the phone's map. So, without a cell phone use ban, it can be difficult for officers to ticket those texting and driving.

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said the grant will "help identify real-world protocols and practices to better detect if a person is texting while driving."

Law enforcement will try out techniques like stationary patrols, or spotters on overpasses, for two years. Then, other states with similar problems will be able to see how effective they are.

Heartland News talked to a few drivers on the issue.

Randall is a father, and said he thinks texting and driving should be illegal. He said it is dangerous, and can be expensive if someone gets in a wreck.

"It's very distracting, you're looking at your phone and you're not looking at the road, and a curve comes up, or a car comes up in front of you, or a kid comes in front of you," said Randall.

Courtney agrees it's a dangerous practice.

"Right over there earlier, there was someone texting and driving, I guess is what it looked like and someone was stopped, and they almost hit the car in front of them, you could hear their breaks," said Courtney. "Especially if you have a little one and you're crossing the street or something, and someone's looking down texting, or if you're running, and someone's texting and driving, they could easily not see you or run off the road a little bit."

Courtney also thinks it should be illegal, but wonders how effectively law enforcement will be able to enforce it, and hopes a program like this can come up with some solutions.

"I feel like it is something that should be made illegal, although I feel like it would be really hard for cops to just spot it, especially, I mean I guess if they were passing them, in front of them they could stop it, but even if people could just do it at stop lights like I try to do it at stop lights, or stop signs, I feel like if they could just do that, it would be a lot easier, people may get a little frustrated if they're texting at a stop light and they don't see the light turn green, but at least they're not texting and driving," said Courtney.

Dorothy Lewis said she sees it happen all the time.

"Texting and driving is very dangerous you know because it only takes two seconds for your eyes to leave the road, and there's a fatal accident then," said Dorothy. "I think it should be against the law to text and drive, cause you should be paying attention to what you're doing and not trying to talk or text on the phone. If you take your eyes off the road, somebody could end up dead."

She doesn't think it's that hard to spot drivers texting and driving.

"No it's not hard to see because most of the time they're holding their head down this way or they got their hands over this way, so it's very visible," said Lewis.

In Missouri, it's illegal for drivers under the age of 21 to text and drive.

Cape Girardeau Police Officer Darin Hickey sent this statement:

"Education is the best way to prevent people from distracted driving. People need to be aware that literally fractions of seconds of distraction can be just enough of a hesitation where if the driver would not have been distracted, they could possibly have made a maneuver of some type to possibly avoid a crash. Awareness of the statistics can sometimes be an eye-opener to drivers that routinely text or operate a mobile device while driving. There are more vehicles on the road now that in the past, there are more distractions and therefore more possibilities of crashes and more possibilities of people being injured during crashes."

You can see the release from NHTSA here.

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