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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Campaign aims to raise awareness about dangers of texting while driving



“If you drive and text, you pay”: The Traffic Safety Commission’s educational effort will be augmented by the participation of commonwealth and municipal police, who will intervene with drivers who are using their cell phone while behind the wheel.

By The Star Staff


Traffic Safety Commission (CST by its Spanish initials) Executive Director Luis Rodríguez Díaz announced on Tuesday the launch of an educational campaign aimed at raising awareness about the risks of distracted driving.


With the slogan “When you use the cell phone, it is not only your life that is at stake. If you drive and text, you pay”, the campaign will be held through next Monday.


With the allocation of $168,554 in federal funds by the CST, the educational effort will also have the participation of commonwealth and municipal police, who will intervene with drivers who are using their cell phone while behind the wheel.


“It is imperative that drivers know the consequences of being distracted by driving, which can cause crashes or lead to fines, or in the worst case, end with a negligent fatality,” Rodríguez Díaz said. “Through this campaign, we call for responsibility and respect for the law. We must all be spokespersons. The hands should always be on the steering wheel and the eyes on the road. No call or text message is more important than life itself.”


In addition to warning about the danger of engaging in the act of texting while driving, the objective of the campaign is to change the behavior of the entire population, mainly in drivers between 21 and 36 years old, since statistics show that this demographic is the one that most often engages in the practice.


“It is forbidden to send and read text messages, emails or any other action that distracts the driver’s attention,” the CST chief said. “It is recommended to use ‘hands-free’ systems or stop in a safe place. However, in medical or security cases, generating or answering a call using a hands-free system is authorized. This law applies to drivers, bus drivers, school transportation drivers, truck drivers and motorcyclists. There are no exceptions.”


As for the police effort, it was announced that the commonwealth police will work with municipal police in 18 municipalities to intervene and fine violators of Law 22-2000, as amended, which regulates, among other things, the use of cell phones in motor vehicles, and expressly prohibits all drivers from reading and texting messages while driving.


The participating municipal police forces will be from Arecibo, Barceloneta, Bayamón, Caguas, Camuy, Ceiba, Guaynabo and Hatillo. They are also joined by officers from Ponce, San Juan, Toa Baja, Yauco, Vega Baja, Isabela, Salinas, Cidra and Guayama.


“We have all witnessed drivers who are distracted by using a cell phone, putting their lives and those of other road users at risk,” Rodríguez Díaz said. “Behavior change by citizens must be a collective effort. Let us avoid tragedies; a call or a text can wait.”


The educational campaign can be seen on television, radio, digital media and social networks of the CST as @CSTPR. More information can be found at www.seguridadeneltransito.com.

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