SWOV Catalogus


Evaluating the enforceability of texting laws : strategies tested in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
20210089 ST [electronic version only]
Retting, R. Sprattler, K. Rothenberg, H. & Sexton, T.
Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of Transportation DOT, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA, 2017, III + 57 p., 6 ref.; NHTSA Report DOT HS 812 367

Samenvatting This evaluation sought to determine the enforceability of texting laws and to test methods for enforcing these laws. Participating law enforcement agencies in Connecticut and Massachusetts demonstrated that a variety of enforcement strategies could be used to enforce texting laws, including spotter, stationary, and roving patrol strategies. Strategy variations involved using one- and two-officer patrols, uniformed and plainclothes officers, marked and unmarked patrol vehicles, and a variety of vehicle types, including SUVs, vans, pickup trucks, motorcycles, and cruisers. This evaluation gathered first-hand insights from the participating officers regarding their experiences enforcing texting laws. Key insights highlighted the importance of conducting officer training, holding roll calls focused on texting enforcement, engaging in pre-planning to ensure smooth operation of the strategies, creating partnerships with local and State enforcement agencies to multiply forces and maximize resources, and establishing leadership priority for conducting texting enforcement. The evaluation suggested that having a strong set of distracted driving laws helps with enforcement of texting laws. In circumstances when enforcement cannot prove that a driver engaged in the specific behavior prohibited by a particular texting statute (e.g., reading, writing, or sending a text message), law enforcement can turn to other laws, such as handheld cellphone and impeded-operation laws, as was done in Connecticut and Massachusetts. This evaluation is a building block in the effort to better understand the issues associated with enforcement of texting laws, and to identify viable approaches that may be implemented by law enforcement agencies to address this traffic safety problem. This evaluation demonstrates that texting laws can be enforced, and it provides a resource for law enforcement agencies to guide planning and execution of texting enforcement. (Author/publisher)
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