Monday, April 2, 2012

Safety Campaign Highlights Dangers Of Distracted Driving

Throughout April, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office will join law enforcement agencies around the country in urging motorists to consider the lives of others on the road and to stop using cell phones while driving.

April Is National Distracted Driving Prevention Month.

In addition to cell phone use, the safety campaign seeks to discourage other distracted and careless driving behaviors such as grooming, eating or looking for an address while driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has identified texting and cellular telephone use as the fastest growing and most visible distraction as an associated factor in collisions. In 2009, nearly 5,500 people were killed and 450,000 more were injured in distracted driving crashes in the U.S., according to the NHTSA.

The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group – 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes in the U.S. were reported to have been distracted while driving. Of those drivers involved in fatal crashes who were reportedly distracted, the 30- to 39-year-olds had the highest proportion of cell phone involvement, according to the NHTSA.

CCSO recognizes the importance of raising public awareness about the risks of distracted driving. In December 2011, Sheriff Kevin Rambosk and AAA-sponsored professional race car driver Michael Cenzi, along with AAA and The Auto Club South Traffic Safety Foundation, teamed up to launch “Stay Focused: Don’t Text and Drive.” The CCSO safety campaign seeks to bring awareness, education and the pursuit of legislation for a ban on texting while driving in Florida. 

CCSO is using the April safety campaign to highlight the agency’s efforts to educate motorists and enforce traffic laws along Pine Ridge Road with the goal of significantly reducing injury crashes and eliminating fatal crashes caused by careless driving.

Last year proved to be a deadly one on Collier County’s roadways. In particular, Pine Ridge Road
stood out as a dangerous thoroughfare.

In 2011, the Collier County Sheriff’s office investigated 28 injury-producing vehicle crashes on
Pine Ridge Road between Interstate 75 and Goodlette-Frank Road . In addition, six people died in vehicle crashes on the same stretch of roadway last year.

In the hope of combating even more fatalities, during October 2011, proactive measures were immediately put into action through Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS). This operational model integrates location-based crime and traffic data to establish effective and efficient methods for deploying law enforcement and other resources. The goal of implementing DDACTS is to reduce crime, crashes and traffic violations across the country. By using geomapping the Pine Ridge Road corridor was specifically identified.

The increased law enforcement is expected to improve traffic flow by reducing or eliminating crashes which inevitably cause costly traffic delays.