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HPD hopes to prevent distracted driving as warm months bring more pedestrians

Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 6:09 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - April is Distracted Driver Awareness Month. It comes at the perfect time as warm weather begins rolling in and more people begin walking and biking along sidewalks and roadways.

The biggest distraction behind the wheel is cell phones. In January 2021 it became illegal in Virginia to have a cell phone in hand while operating a vehicle. Since it became law, the Harrisonburg Police Department has been trying to prevent drivers from using their phones behind the wheel.

“We want to make sure that we have a large presence to make sure that we can encourage the drivers to be safe and pay attention to the roadway rather than the objects in their hands,” Lieutenant Chris Monahan with the Harrisonburg Police Department said.

However, cell phones aren’t the only method of distracted driving.

“Oftentimes when you think of distracted driving you think of cell phones and that’s where the code section really focuses a lot on is driving while cell phones in hand,” Lt. Monahan said. “But also there’s a lot of other distractions ... whether it’s your navigation system, whether it’s your drinking coffee, or putting makeup on, all those things, if you’re focusing on that it means your not focusing on the roadway and it can be dangerous.”

April brings warm weather and the start to the vacation season, making it the perfect time to be Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

“When it becomes springtime, April again being distracted driving month we’re focused a lot on making sure that we’re out there and we’re present that’s when people are enjoying the nice weather, the weather’s turned people want to be outside and enjoy themselves, there’s more pedestrian traffic, there’s more vehicle traffic so we want to make sure that those people are able to do so safely,” Lt. Monahan said.

The Harrisonburg Police Department wants to make sure the public is safe as pedestrians and drivers.

”We wanna make sure that the citizens and the drivers out there on the street understand that we’re paying special attention to distracted driving this month and ultimately our goal is education over enforcement, but when education doesn’t work it becomes enforcement,” Lt. Monahan said.

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