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Delaware Governor: Jack Markell

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  Archived Posts From: 2010


Hope You’re Not Driving Right Now…

Written on: July 8th, 2010 in Helping Our Neighbors

“It’s like Russian roulette every time you pick up your phone in the car.” – Oprah Winfrey

On Tuesday, I signed legislation that restricts the use of cell phones and bans texting while driving.

Signing the billsStarting January 2, 2011, you may not use a hand-held cell phone, send or read text messages and emails, use a computer or browse websites while driving.  You could be fined $50 for the first offense and $100-200 for a second offense.

Here’s a fact sheet that outlines the new law and lists exemptions, including people who use a mounted, two-way communication device as part of their jobs; FCC-licensed amateur radio operators; and individuals reporting emergencies.

“Texting while driving can be more dangerous than drinking and driving.” – Bayhealth Trauma Medical Director Dr. Ed Alexander

The danger of distracted driving has been tragically clear.  Here are some facts from

  • Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted driver, and more than half a million were injured. (NHTSA)
  • Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • Using a cell phone while driving delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah)

In Delaware, there were 230 crashes in 2009 that involved the use of a cell phone.  As of last month, 94 crashes have involved the use of a cell phone and another 17 have involved texting in 2010.  Countless others go unreported.

For every two seconds you take your eyes off the road, you are two times more likely to get in a car accident. AAA

Our state is the 30th to ban texting while driving, and the 8th to ban the use of hand-held cell phones behind the wheel. Rep. Darryl Scott spearheaded the effort, with Sen. Brian Bushweller and Sen. Karen Peterson sponsoring the bill in the Senate. Rep. Peter Schwartzkopf and Rep. Ruth Briggs King sponsored HB 493 and 494 respectively, the companion bills that delineated key exemptions.  More information on their work to pass these bills available here.

Over the next few months, the Office of Highway Safety, Bayhealth Medical Center and AAA Mid-Atlantic will work to raise awareness of the new law.

Please help us share the news about the dangers of distracted driving.

Call, text, and email the people you care about…

just not when you are behind the wheel!

Governor Markell and the team from the Office of Highway Safety and the Delaware State Police thank you!

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