California and Delaware are the next two states to receive federal funding to help curb the “epidemic” of distracted driving in America. Announced in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving,” the states will each get $1.2 million to fund pilot projects focusing on beefed-up enforcement and educational efforts.
In California, the pilot program will take place in the Sacramento valley region, comprised of eight counties and 3.8 million residents. Delaware’s pilot will be conducted statewide. Both programs are expected to begin in the fall.
This two-state pilot effort follows the successful programs conducted in Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse, New York. Although much smaller in scope, the 2011 initial pilot efforts resulted in dramatic declines in distracted driving: 72 percent reductions in texting in Hartford and 32 percent in Syracuse.
In 2010, about 3,092 people lost their lives in distracted-driving related crashes, about one in ten. A total of 39 states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam currently ban texting while driving. Ten states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam, ban all use of hand-held cell phones by drivers.