The Southington Police Department (SPD) is partnering with the Connecticut Highway Safety Office as part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month to crack down on drivers who choose to ignore Connecticut’s mobile phone laws.
The joint effort—”U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”—will span through the month, from April 4 to April 30.
In 2014, an estimated 3,179 people were killed (10 percent of all crash fatalities) and an additional 431,000 were injured (18 percent of all crash injuries) in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Last year, Connecticut drivers started to get the message as a result of this crackdown, and law enforcement wrote over 22,000 citations as part of last year’s effort to get drivers to put down their phones and pay attention to the road.
“The laws are well known for the most part,” SPD Chief Jack Daly said in a press release “Connecticut has been ahead of the curve in terms of passing tough laws and enforcing them, and while this is a difficult habit to break, the impacts this behavior can have are very real and result in crashes that have real impacts of people’s lives. This is why we have to continue to go out and enforce the law.”
Department of Transportation observations conducted before and after last year’s crackdown showed a significant drop in hand held mobile phone use at selected enforcement locations. The observations showed a decrease in distracted driving from 9.6 percent before April 2015 to 7.8 percent in August 2015. This represents a 23 percent drop in phone use at the selected enforcement locations.
“While some people may have gotten the message to put down the phone, we all know we still see people every day who choose to ignore the Connecticut law, and put themselves and others of the road at risk,” Daly said in the release. “If we continue to ratchet down on use over time, we can prevent needless crashes from happening, and people from getting injured or killed—that’s what it’s all about.”
Fines for using a mobile phone while behind the wheel have not changed, though they are still steep. A first offense will cost $150, a second $300, and a third and subsequent offense $500.
The effort will ramp up again later this year from Aug. 3 to Aug. 16.
For more information about national distracted driving issues, visit www/distraction.gov.