Maine State Police say they’re going to start cracking down on vehicle cell phone use as part of an initiative started by Governor LePage to combat distracted driving, and they’re asking truck drivers to help.
The effort includes large anti-distraced driving messages on the side of 16 commercial trucks that travel within the state. The police have also recruited truck drivers in the operation to catch other drivers who aren’t focused on the road.
“We’re gonna be sitting on over-passes and watching people as they pass under,” Colonel Robert Williams, Chief of the Maine State Police, told WABI News.
“I can tell you you’ll be amazed at what you can see from up there. We’ve partnered with some trucking companies. We’ll be riding in their tractor-trailers looking for people who are distracted driving.”
To promote the message, the department also plans on sending out public service announcements, running messages at visitor centers and implementing yellow no-texting signs in work site zones. Police will also be patrolling intersections, where people are known to text while waiting for a red light.
Funds for the campaign came from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and highway safety grants totaling $600,000 in federal money.
LePage said he’s in favor of banning cell phone use altogether and plans on tightening the penalties for distracted driving if he’s his re-elected next year. Currently, drivers caught texting and driving acquire a $310 penalty.
In the past three years, 41 deaths and more than 8,000 crashes in Maine have been caused by distracted driving, according to the Department of Public Safety.