Worcester restarts Eyes Up, Phones Down educational program

WORCESTER, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) – Worcester officials are relaunching the “Eyes Up, Phones Down” program, which aims to educate people about the dangers of distracted driving.

The program was launched in February 2020, but was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at a city hall press conference on Tuesday with other city officials, District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. noted a sharp increase in distracted driving cases this year so that the restrictions were relaxed and people got back on the road.

“In January 2021, police issued 151 distracted driving citations and warnings in Massachusetts,” Early said. “It rose to 405 in February 2021. It went to 3,515 in March and 10,276 citations in April.”

Early also reported a total of 60,000 accidents in Massachusetts in August of this year, including 206 fatalities.

As part of the campaign, Worcester Police will not be issuing any tickets or citations for distracted driving for the next month as part of an effort to re-educate the public on the state’s hands-free driving law . Instead, officers will warn drivers and remind them of the law.

“We want everyone from teenagers to grandparents to be more focused,” said Worcester Police Chief Steven M. Sargent. “Our officers will be there to enforce the law, but we want to see compliance.”

Alyson Lowell, whose 20-year-old daughter Gabriella “Gabby” Lowell was killed by a distracted driver in 2018, also spoke at the event, begging the public to be careful while driving.

“I will never get over the loss of my daughter,” Lowell said. “She was killed because of a thumbs-up emoji. My heart hurts every second, every day. But through the tragedy of losing Gabby so insanely, I made a vow, not just to Gabby but to myself what I will do is my life’s mission to educate individuals on the impact of distracted driving. I will be a voice for victims, as well as their families. “

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