MERIDIAN, Idaho — April is Distracted Driving month so Idaho police departments and traffic safety advocates are trying to spread this message: when you get behind the wheel, your cell phone shouldn't be in your hand, it should be put away where you won't be distracted by it.
"At least nine Americans die on our road every single day," said Michelle Anderson with the National Road Safety Foundation.
This is why that organization is working to spread awareness about distracted driving this month.
The City of Meridian and the state have already taken steps to crack down on distracted driving. Meridian passed an ordinance back in 2019 banning the use of cell phones while driving unless it's hands-free.
They say they've already seen an impact.
"We've seen about a 25% decrease in crashes as a direct result of the mobile device," said Sgt. Justin Dance with the Meridian Police Department.
The state passed a similar law in 2020 which also bans cell phone use while at a stop sign or red light.
Statewide, traffic fatalities had been declining since 2016 when there were 253 deaths. That declined to 245 in 2017 and 214 in 2020.
The pandemic may have also played a factor in 2020.
There was a spike in 2021, with the Idaho Department of transportation reporting preliminary data back in December, which showed 254 traffic fatalities. It's not clear how many of these involved distracted driving.
"This mobilization is not just about writing tickets but it's more focused on educating the public and helping keep our drivers safe and our community safe," Dance said.