On Wednesday the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), in partnership with the Utah Department of Public Safety, introduced a DVD that educates drivers about the dangers of distracted driving and illustrates, through a true-life example, how one Utah teen’s texting while driving resulted in the deaths of two men. The contents of the documentary are based on an actual fatal crash that took place in Cache County on the Valley View Highway.”Texting or emailing while driving is a dangerous practice that is too prevalent across the nation and in Utah,” said John Njord, UDOT Executive Director. “Multitasking behind the wheel has crept into our culture, but that has to change.” Njord indicated at the event that it is up to transportation officials, law enforcement officers and safety advocates to lead the charge in teaching people that these behaviors can be deadly. UDOT officials believe this documentary will be a key part in their education efforts. “It is my hope that everyone who watches this video will be moved by the emotional story it tells and make a commitment to never send an email or text message while driving.” Njord added.
“Driving requires your full attention,” said Department of Public Safety Director and Utah Highway Patrol Colonel Daniel Fuhr. “You have to decide when you get in the car if your social life is more important than your entire life and the lives of others on the road with you.” Fuhr pointed out that when members of the State Legislature passed this law they wanted to send the strong message that texting while driving is not acceptable in Utah. “There are too many instances of drivers with their wrists perched on top of the steering wheel while their knees do the driving and their thumbs do the talking and that has to stop” Fuhr concluded.Recently passed laws make texting and emailing while driving illegal in Utah. The Penalties are: * First-time offenders are charged with a class C misdemeanor. When pulled over for texting or emailing while driving, offenders may end up paying a fine of up to $750 and spending up to 90 days in jail. * When offenders hurt someone due to texting or emailing, the penalties increase up to a $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail. * If the offenders’ texting or emailing activities while driving result in the loss of life for others, they are faced with fines of up to $10,000 and prison time of up to 15 years.”While we show this documentary in driver’s education classes, the message won’t be just for teens,” Njord stated. “The message is intended to influence anyone who has a cell phone and a driver’s license. Texting while driving is dangerous at any age.”Enforcement alone is not enough to reduce the number of distracted drivers, therefore driving behaviors must change. The texting while driving documentary educates viewers on the dangers of texting while driving and discourages the practice. The DVD will be sent to every high school in Utah to be shown in driver’s education classes and assemblies. It is also available for download at www.zerofatalities.com.