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National campaign takes aim at texting while driving
By staff

Federal officials announced the launch of the first-ever national advertising campaign and law enforcement crackdown to combat distracted driving.

The $8.5 million ad campaign features the phrase "U drive. U text. U pay." The ads are running on television, radio and websites during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, April 7 to 15.

"This campaign puts distracted driving on par with our efforts to fight drunk driving or to encourage seatbelt use," U.S Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said at a press conference announcing the campaign.

A nationwide law enforcement crackdown on texting and driving will take place April 10 to 15. The combined advertising and enforcement effort builds on the success of two federally funded distracted driving state demonstration programs that took place in California and Delaware, "Phone in one hand. Ticket in the other."

Forty-three states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for drivers of all ages; 12 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit drivers of all ages from using hand-held cell phones while driving; and 37 states and D.C. ban cell phone use by novice drivers.

"National campaigns like "Click it or ticket," and local efforts like "Phone in one hand. Ticket in the other," show that combining good laws with effective enforcement and strong public education campaigns can - and do - change unsafe driving behaviors," said National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Acting Administrator David Friedman.

The NHTSA estimates 3,328 people were killed and 421,000 were injured in distraction-related crashes in 2012.

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