Mayor Stephen Zanni and Chief Joseph Solomon report that the Methuen Police Department will be participating in the Distracted Driving Enforcement Campaign and reminds residents to remain focused while behind the wheel.
April is designated as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the National Safety Council. As part of the campaign, Methuen Police will work to raise awareness about the importance of attentive and engaged driving, and will focus on the dangers distracted driving poses to everyone on the road, including bicyclists and pedestrians.
The effort is run through the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s Highway Safety Division to address a historic rise in fatal crashes fueled by distracted driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that distracted driving fatalities are up 9 percent from 2015.
Methuen Police received a grant from EOPSS to increase patrols throughout April, and officers will be on the lookout for distracted drivers.
“Focusing on anything but the road while you’re behind the wheel puts you and everyone else at risk,” Mayor Zanni said. “Through this campaign, we hope to remind everyone of the dangers of distracted driving and make our roads safer.”
Massachusetts law prohibits drivers from writing, sending or reading electronic messages, using apps or browsing the Internet while driving, even if stopped at a light or in traffic. Drivers under 18 are prohibited entirely from using mobile phones and other electronic devices while driving. Fines for violating this law can be as high as $500 and teen drivers can also lose their license for up to one year.
“We will be out looking for drivers who appear distracted and those who are found to be breaking the law will be issued a citation accordingly,” Chief Solomon said. “Please, be smart when you’re behind the wheel and keep your cell phone off and out of reach. If you absolutely need to make a call or send a message, pull over safely before doing so.”
The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s Highway Safety Division recommends that motorists:
- Turn your phone off and put it where you can’t reach it before driving.
- Let your friends and family know that you’ll be driving and can’t take their call/text.
- Pull over to a safe place if you have to make a call or send a text.
- Start GPS navigation or review maps before you start driving.
- Watch for pedestrians and bicyclists, especially at night.
- Remember to buckle up! Seat belts are your best defense against a distracted driver.