Distracted driving initiative

Master Cpl. Wayne Aston pulls over a driver during a distracted driving enforcement initiative in 2018.

The Newark Police Department issued 140 citations during its one-day enforcement blitz to crack down on distracted driving last week.

The initiative, which took place March 25, involved the traffic unit and special operations unit. Officers targeted several areas around the city, including the Elkton Road construction zone.

The traffic unit focuses on enforcing traffic laws year-round, but the well-publicized enforcement initiative is intended to send a message to drivers that Newark strictly enforces traffic laws. NPD has done similar efforts in previous years.

Most of the citations were for use of a cell phone while driving and failure to use a seatbelt. Other drivers were charged with various traffic offenses or possession of marijuana.

Drivers caught using a cell phone while driving can be fined $100 for a first offense and $200 for a second offense.

According to the Delaware Office of Highway Safety:

• Cell phone-related crashes begin to increase in rate around noon. This increase in rate continues, with the sharpest rise during the evening rush hour. Thirty-nine percent of all distracted driving crashes occur from 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

• A driver who texts is six times more likely to crash than one who drinks.

• Cell phone-related crashes trend young in Delaware. Fifty-one percent of these crashes are caused by a person under the age of 30.

• Men account for 60 percent of crashes and females account for 40 percent.

“The Newark Police will continue to enforce traffic laws to reduce crashes, a majority of which are caused by distracted driving and other inattentive driving behaviors,” spokesman Lt. Andrew Rubin said.

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