HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Holyoke police have a message for drivers: your text message can wait. The department is increasing its enforcement of state law against distracted driving, with a series of patrols.
“Our goal is keeping all road users in our community safe. If you text, dial, or read a message on your phone while driving, you are endangering the lives of those around you, and you will be stopped,” Holyoke Police Chief James Neiswanger said. “Using our community’s crash data, our officers will determine where the majority of crashes occur and focus their patrols in those areas.”
Holyoke Police Lt. Jim Albert told 22News that there has been a historic rise in deadly crashes involving distracted driving. From 2015 to 2016 alone, there was a 13% increase in deaths from motor vehicle crashes overall, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that distracted driving crashes increased by 9% in 2015.
The NTHSA now estimates that one out of 10 of all drivers involved in deadly crashes had been distracted while behind the wheel.
“Drivers focused on anything but driving put every road user – especially pedestrians and bicyclists – in danger,” said Jeff Larason, Director of the Highway Safety Division. “Transportation experts agree that the increase in fatal crashes is linked to drivers who aren’t paying attention. These types of crashes are not ‘accidents’ – they kill innocent people and they are 100 percent preventable.”
In Massachusetts, it is illegal to text or use apps while driving, and those under 18 are not allowed to use their cell phones at all while driving.
Holyoke police offer these tips to avoid distracted driving:
- 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.