According to the NHTSA's results, texting and cell phone use while driving in Syracuse and Hartford was reduced by at least one third during the pilot programs

Cell phones have become a crucial part of everyday life for many people, but mobile technology isn't entirely beneficial. For instance, a Chicago driver struck and killed a pedestrian while posting on Facebook

Due to accidents like this, the government started to crack down on the use of cell phones while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) supported two pilot programs in Syracuse, New York and Hartford, Connecticut from April 2010 until April 2011, which offered an enhanced law enforcement effort combined with "high profile" public education campaigns similar to the "Click it or Ticket" or drunk driving campaigns. 

The NHTSA provided $200,000 for each pilot program while each state provided another $100,000. These state programs used campaigns like "Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other" and increased law enforcement to decrease the number of accidents caused by distracted driving, and according to the NHTSA, the year-long program was very effective.

According to the NHTSA's results, texting and cell phone use while driving in each state was reduced by at least one-third during the pilot programs. High-visibility enforcement led to a decline in cell phone use of about one third in Syracuse, and in Hartford, there was a 57 percent drop in hand-held use and a 72 percent drop in texting. 

In addition, Syracuse Police issued 9,587 citations for those talking or texting on cell phones while driving during the one-year crackdown, and Hartford Police issued 9,658 over that same period of time. 

Before the programs began, researchers found that drivers in Hartford talked on cell phones twice as much as those in Syracuse. Texting while driving fell from 2.8 percent to 1.9 percent in Syracuse and fell 3.9 percent to 1.1 percent in Hartford. 

"These findings show that strong laws, combined with high visible police enforcement, can significantly reduce dangerous texting and cell phone use behind the wheel," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Based on these results, it is crystal clear that those who try to minimize this dangerous behavior are making a serious error in judgement, especially when a half a million people are injured and thousands more are killed in distracted driving accidents." 

Currently, nine states have prohibited all hand-held cell phone use while driving, 30 states have banned young drivers from using cell phones behind the wheel and 34 states have enacted texting bans. 

The NHTSA will release these results in Syracuse today.

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