Police Chief Mark D. Segalla reports that the Reading Police Department will be participating in a statewide Distracted Driving Enforcement Campaign. Chief Segalla reminds residents to concentrate while behind the wheel at all times.
April is designated as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the National Safety Council. As part of the campaign, Reading 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 Highway Safety Division of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) to address a historic rise in fatal crashes fueled by distracted driving. Nationally, in 2015, fatalities from crashes involving a distracted driver increased by 9 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Reading Police received a grant from EOPSS to increase patrols throughout April, and officers will be on the lookout for distracted drivers.
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.
“Our primary concern is the health and safety of all, and we will do anything we can to reduce fatalities and injuries caused by distracted driving,” Chief Segalla said. “Motor vehicle crashes caused by distracted driving are completely preventable, and we will be aggressively enforcing the law to ensure that all motorists share the road safely.”
The EOPSS Highway Safety Division recommends that motorists:
- Turn phones off and put them where they can’t be reached before driving.
- Let 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.