April 6, 2017
The Portsmouth Police Department aggressively enforces New Hampshire’s statute, “Use of Mobile Electronic Devices While Driving” on a daily basis. The effort will be emphasized in April as part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
The use of mobile electronic devices while operating a vehicle is dangerous and has directly been the cause of crashes involving injuries and death. Below are statistics compiled within the last several years as smart phone purchase and use has increased.
10% of drivers between the ages of 15-19 years of age involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted driving. (NHTSA)
38% of drivers in their 20’s involved in fatal crashes were using cell phones. (NHTSA)
Five seconds is the average time someone spends reading a text message. At 55MPH this is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
In 2016 Portsmouth Police responded to 701 reportable (damage in excess of $1,000) crashes. Of those, 142 or 20% were listed as being caused or partly caused by Driver Inattention or Distraction.
As part of this effort driver awareness of New Hampshire’s law is crucial. Below is an excerpt from the State statute. The entire statute can be found at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/xxi/265/265-79-c.htm
265:79-c Use of Mobile Electronic Devices While Driving; Prohibition. –
I. (a) No person, while driving a moving motor vehicle upon a way or temporarily halted in traffic for a traffic control device or other momentary delay, shall use any hand-held mobile electronic device capable of providing voice or data communication, including but not limited to: reading, composing, viewing, or posting any electronic message; or initiating, receiving, or conducting a conversation; or initiating a command or request to access the Internet; or inputting information into a global positioning system or navigation device; or manually typing data into any other portable electronic device. An operator of a motor vehicle who holds a cellular telephone or other electronic device capable of voice communication in the immediate proximity of his or her ear while such vehicle is in motion is presumed to be engaging in a call within the meaning of this section.
First offense violations of the statute shall be fined at $100 plus penalty assessment, $250 for second offense plus penalty assessment and $500 plus penalty assessment for any subsequent offense within a 24 month period.
With grant funding from New Hampshire Highway Safety the Portsmouth Police Department will be deploying patrols specifically targeting distracted driving in April and throughout the year.