While there are no hard statistics on the number of automobile accidents locally that are caused by distracted driving, local law enforcement and public safety officials agree that it is one of the most serious problems on the highway these days. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that one 1 in 4 fatal accidents across the country are caused by distracted driving and every day eleven teenagers die texting and driving. That’s why the Pitkin County Public Safety Council and Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office have teamed up to elevate awareness in the community about the problem.
Informational videos, radio, newspaper and social media ads will be launched the first week of September and will be seen in local newspapers, on television and radio, and on popular social media sites throughout the month.
Pitkin County Sheriff's Office deputies will increase their routine patrol of local roads and State highways focusing on distracted driving education and enforcement throughout the month of September.
“You don’t have to be a cop to notice how many people are either talking on their cellphones while driving or worse, texting while driving,” said Pitkin County Sheriff, Joe DiSalvo. “The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office is cracking down on distracted driving and we hope this campaign helps us educate the public and maybe even save a few lives,” DiSalvo said.
The target audience of the outreach campaign is Millennials - males and females 18 to 35 years old. Statistics show that this demographic is the most at risk for injury or fatal accidents resulting from distracted driving.
“We respond to accidents all the time that we suspect were caused by distracted driving” said Pitkin County Sheriff’s Operations Commander, Alex Burchetta. “National statistics show that eleven teenagers die every day texting and driving. We would like to help reduce the risk of that happening in our community,” Burchetta said.
Specially designed warning tickets emphasizing the laws against texting and driving and associated penalties will be given to drivers that deputies pull over who they witness driving while distracted. Drivers who get pulled over who have already received a warning may be ticketed, according to the Sheriff’s Office.