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Police to educate Manchester motorists on distracted driving

MANCHESTER — More than a dozen city police and New Hampshire State Police troopers will be in the downtown area today as part of an “educational initiative” to get people’s eyes off their mobile phones and on the road.

The Distracted Driver Initiative will concentrate on the downtown and include distribution of educational materials to motorists about the dangers of distracted driving, police said.

“Enforcement action will be taken as necessary but the primary goal of the downtown initiative is education,” said police Lt. Maureen Tessier.

State officials attribute six of the 99 fatalities last year to distracted drivers. In 2011, distracted drivers counted for 12 of 84 fatalities.

In 2001, New Hampshire became the first state in the country to address distracted driving by passing a law that institutes a $1,000 fine for any accident that results from any distracted driving, including telephone calls, texting, eating, changing the radio or applying makeup.

Then in 2011, state law specifically banned two-handed texting while driving and instituted a $100 fine to anyone for doing so.

Tessier said 14 to 15 officers and troopers will take part in the initaitive. Police will also patrol others areas of the city, looking out for issues such as speeding and traffic-signal violations, she said.

Tessier said the effort involves only on-duty officers.

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