The Columbus Police Department will soon be cracking down even more on drivers who attempt to text on their smartphones while behind the wheel of their vehicles as part of a national campaign.
Beginning Monday, April 3rd, CPD will participate in the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” enforcement effort, a week-long initiative that aims to enforce texting and distracted driving laws to make roads safer.
“Texting and driving leads to inattentive driving,” Columbus Police Capt. Doug Molczyk said. “This is a major contributing circumstance to accidents. This campaign hopefully will help draw people’s attention to the dangers involved in this behavior.”
Violating Nebraska’s distracted-driving laws can be costly. The fine for using a handheld communication device in Nebraska will result in a $200 - $500 fine and put 3 points on your driving record, which can have additional costs.
According to the national campaign’s website, there were 3,142 lives lost involving distracted drivers in 2020 and 8% of fatal crashes in 2020 involved distracted drivers. Additionally, more than 29,000 people have died in crashes involving distracted drivers from 2012-2020.
Nebraska research from 2022 showed that 1 in 10 drivers is distracted by using electronic devices, according to CPD.
Cellphone use is habit-forming, so law enforcement officials urge the public to not text while driving, activate their phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature, or put their phone in the trunk, glove box or back seat of their vehicle until they arrive at your destination. Another solution may be to ask your passenger to be your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
The Columbus Police Department was awarded a grant in the amount of $6,270 from the Nebraska Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office. This funding will be used to pay the overtime cost of additional officers to specifically conduct this high visibility enforcement.