Every month, hundreds of your friends and neighbors are ticketed for distracted driving. Phil Schultz gets to meet many of them.
And it's not because he is issuing those tickets – though he did that for 23 years as a uniformed officer. Today, Phil is founder of Empire State Safety Instructors (ESSI). ESSI offers a distracted driving diversion program for those convicted (first offense) of distracted driving.
His “Driven to Distraction” course serves three purposes: helping drivers understand how dangerous their distracted behaviors are, allowing drivers a chance to reduce the points on their license, and providing funding for distracted driving outreach efforts, in partnership with Causewave Community Partners.
In 2015, ESSI provided approximately $15,000 (through a portion of each course registration fee) to support Causewave’s work on preventing distracted driving. And there’s evidence it's working.
New York State has gotten behind distracted driving prevention. That much is obvious to anyone driving down the Thruway, with Text Stops at every rest area. But the greatest evidence is the penalty for those caught: the combination of five license points and between $50 and $200 (plus surcharges) is a powerful disincentive for those who would look at their electronics instead of the road. (See more about the fees and fines here: https://dmv.ny.gov/tickets/cell-phone-use-texting)
The good news is there’s at least some evidence local drivers may be getting the message. A recent street-side survey of 11,000 cars at intersections across our community showed 20% fewer distracted drivers than when measured two years before.
And that’s just fine with Phil Schultz. “I have spent my adult life trying to make roadways safer. I am happy to put myself out of business.”
Learn more about Causewave’s Distracted Driving Prevention campaign at www.urthatdistracting.org. Find Empire State Safety Instructors at https://empirestatesafetyinstructors.com.