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Driving this Holiday Season? NH Police Chief says Lose the Cell Phone

November 24, 2009

ENFIELD, N.H. - The holiday season kicks off this week, and that means the roads will be filled with shoppers and travelers, some of them not paying attention to what they are doing. Drivers today have more distractions than ever, and it's not just kids in the back seat and the occasional billboard, says Enfield Police Chief Richard Crate. He says the most troubling new trend is texting while driving, and it's not just an issue for teens, but adults as well. He says people of all ages are chatting and texting on their cell phones and not paying attention to the most important task at hand, which should be driving.

"It's very important when you're driving that you focus on that driving. You're driving a car that weighs over 2,000 pounds on a highway. And over the holiday there's just going to be much more traffic than we're normally used to."

Crate says that, while there will be more drivers on the road this holiday season, there will also be more law enforcement officers out there watching. He says to make sure you have a designated driver if you have been drinking; and if you are tired, pull over and rest or stretch if needed. He adds that he hopes more people will buckle up, in spite of the absence of a mandatory seat-belt law for adults in New Hampshire.

"In my career, the fatal accidents that I've gone to, if those people were wearing seat belts, some of them would have not even required a hospital visit. They would have been released at the scene without any injuries whatsoever."

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), "distracted driving" is now the number-one cause of car accidents in the U.S. Drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be in a road collision than drivers who do not.

A new anti-texting-while-driving law goes into effect in New Hampshire on January 1, which will prohibit drivers from sending text messages on any handheld device while driving a motor vehicle.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - NH