METHUEN — Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon and Officer-in-Charge Capt. Joel Dolan report that the Methuen and Salem Police Departments partnered on a national distracted driving enforcement and awareness campaign earlier this month.
On Thursday, April 11, Methuen and Salem Police participated in Connect to Disconnect (C2D), a four-hour enforcement period where law enforcement agencies across the country stop and issue warnings to drivers for violating state and local cell phone and texting bans.
The two cities share a state border, and were able to broaden their education and awareness campaign for safe driving by working together.
“This was a great example of the interstate cooperation between the Methuen and Salem police departments,” Capt. Dolan said. “We share a border, and it makes sense that we should work together on these initiatives to keep our communities safe.”
New Hampshire law bans drivers from using their cell phones while driving.
In Massachusetts, state 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.
April is designated as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the National Safety Council. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately nine people are killed daily in motor vehicle crashes that involve a distracted driver, and approximately 1,000 are injured.
“Looking at a cell phone while driving, even for a second, is incredibly dangerous,” Chief Solomon said. “Please put these devices away, start your GPS before you begin driving and keep your eyes on the roads and hands on the wheel. Attentive driving is safe driving.”
Methuen Police issued approximately 20 written warnings during the enforcement initiative in an effort to educate local drivers and raise awareness about the dangers of texting and driving.
The EOPSS 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.
- Do not text and drive, browse the internet or read email while driving. It is illegal in Massachusetts and dangerous.
- Start GPS navigation or review maps before you start driving.
- Secure pets properly before driving so that they do not become a distraction.
- Avoid drinking, eating, smoking, or any other potentially distracting activities while driving.