Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other

In April 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched the "Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other" enforcement program in Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse, New York.

The pilot campaigns were the first in the country to test whether increased law enforcement efforts combined with public service announcements could get distracted drivers to put their cell phones down and focus on the road. Each program, which was supported by $200,000 in federal funds and $100,000 from the state, was modeled after NHTSA's highly-successful national seat belt campaign, "Click It or Ticket."

During four enforcement waves over the course of a year, Syracuse police issued 9,587 citations for violations involving talking or texting on cell phones while driving. During the same period, police in Hartford, Connecticut, issued 9,658 tickets for illegal phone use.

Before and after each enforcement wave, NHTSA actively observed cell phone use and conducted public awareness surveys at driver licensing offices in the two cities. They found:

Based on these encouraging results, NHTSA plans to further test this same three-part formula - tough laws, strong enforcement, and ongoing public awareness - at the state-wide level.

In June 2012, NHTSA announced an expansion of the “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other� pilot program with federal support worth a total of $2.4 million for California and Delaware. The California program will be undertaken in the Sacramento valley region comprising eight counties and 3.8 million residents, while the Delaware program will be conducted statewide. Both projects are expected to be underway in fall 2012.