NHP challenge can erase cell-phone-while-driving fines - 8 News NOW

NHP challenge can erase cell-phone-while-driving fines

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LAS VEGAS -- People caught talking on their cell phones while they drive now have a chance to get the fines waived by taking to social media.

So far this year, in southern Nevada, Nevada Highway Patrol troopers alone have handed out 5,800 tickets for driving while using a cell phone, while more than 9,000 have gone out statewide.

Now, NHP is allowing people facing fines to go online and talk about the dangers of cell phone use in exchange, their citations will be erased.

In Nevada, fines for using a cell phone while driving start at $50 dollars. Starting Sunday, troopers will invite people to join a 28-Day Challenge at www.itcanwaitfor28.com.

The challenge is supposed to teach drivers about distracted driving and if they complete the challenge, NHP will erase the fines.

Carmen Marcuccio keeps busy day to day flipping houses and readily admits he often talks on his cell phone in the car.

"I'm sad to say I'm a part of the problem not the solution, that's the truth," Marcuccio said. He is not alone.

So far this year, troopers have cited nearly 5,800 southern Nevada drivers for using their cell phones while driving.

Judge Bill Kephardt says when those people make it into his courtroom many don't even understand what they did wrong.

"You start hearing the same stories, ‘I didn't even know it was illegal. I didn't even know I couldn't do this. I had my cell phone I wasn't talking on it.’" Judge Kephardt said.

Starting June 30 through July 10, when troopers catch people violating the hands-free law, they will be invited to join the 28-Day Challenge. The challenge is targeted toward young, tech-savvy drivers, who are often glued to their phones.

"People have got to understand that these driving habits need to stop. If not, it just leads to accidents and possibly fatalities," NHP Capt. Anne Carpenter said.

Each day, people facing fines will be asked to get on Twitter or Facebook and share a message about distracted driving dangers.

NHP will check and make sure they're completing every daily mini-challenge.

"With social media today and how it reaches hundreds of people all the time, it will touch more than one person,” Capt. Carpenter said.

Not everyone thinks this will hit home with its target audience.

"Whether they go on Facebook or do this or do this, I don't think that's really going to stop people from being on the phone," Marcuccio said.

For now, Marcuccio is pushing for larger fines for cell phone use behind the wheel, believing money is the biggest motivator to stop bad habits.

State lawmakers say if the 28-Day Challenge program doesn't work, they could consider raising hands-free fines substantially in the next legislative session.

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