Distracted Driving Crackdown Proves Effective

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Study after study confirms that texting while driving is dangerous. More than a thousand people die each year due to texting behind the wheel.

"You are 23 times more likely to get into an accident if you are texting and driving," said Gail Torreano, AT&T senior vice president.

But despite the deadly statistics and countless tragic stories, people still text.

"I sent one stupid, meaningless text - LOL - and killed a man," one driver recalled.

A simulation done for college students in Texas showed that texting while driving can be compared to driving while drunk. However, drivers still feel like they can text safely.

The U.S. Department of Transportation teamed up with local police in New York and Connecticut to crack down on distracted drivers. Police officials decided to step up anti-texting enforcement programs to see if they got results.

"We ended up issuing over 9,000 citations for cell phone use by drivers, and we also found a substantial change in behavior," said Capt. Shannon Trice of the Syracuse Police Department.

Syracuse police officials noticed a 32 percent drop in the amount of drivers using hand-held cell phones or texting.

In Hartford, Conn., texting while driving plummeted 72 percent.

"Everybody thinks they can use their cell phone and drive and drive safety. You can't," U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood stated.

"The key is going to be consistent, focused and dedicated enforcement," Trice explained.

There are currently nine states that prohibit the use of any hand-held cell phone while driving. Thirty states have banned young drivers from using cell phones behind the wheel and 34 states have texting bans.

*Original broadcast July 12, 2011. 

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