Police to step up checks for distracted drivers in April

The Southington Police Department announced that they will be out in force looking for distracted drivers as part of the U Drive. U Text. U Pay. campaign, a high-visibility effort to enforce distracted-driving laws. From April 4-30, police will be stepping up their enforcement of distracted driving laws.

“Everyone knows texting and driving is illegal and dangerous, and everyone knows they shouldn’t be doing it—but we see it happen all the time,” SPD chief Jack Daly said in a press release. “Beginning April 4th, you will see stepped-up law enforcement efforts. Officers will be stopping and ticketing anyone who is caught texting and driving. If you text and drive, you will pay.”

According to the release, too many drivers are ignoring their responsibilities behind the wheel, and distracted driving is a growing and deadly threat on our roadways. The SPD is teaming up with the Connecticut Department of Transportation during the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) National Distracted Driving Awareness month to make sure all motorists keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.

Violating Connecticut’s distracted driving laws can be costly. Drivers who are ticketed for this violation can be fined $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense, and $500 for each subsequent offense.

According to the NHTSA, 3,477 people were killed and an estimated 391,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015. This is a 9 percent increase from 2014 fatalities.

The release pointed to an analysis by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety of 2009-2012 data, which found that while more than 80 percent of drivers believed it was completely unacceptable for a motorist to text behind the wheel, more than a third of those same drivers admitted to reading text messages while operating a passenger motor vehicle.

“Do the right thing—put your phone away when you get behind the wheel,” Daly said in the release. “Save yourself the embarrassment and expense of getting pulled over—or more importantly, maybe save someone’s life.”

Police are urging drivers to avoid using phones when behind the wheel. If texting is necessary, police advise to pull over first and park the vehicle in a safe place.

The release noted that texting and driving is more than just a personal risk, it endangers passengers and others on the road. They urge passengers to speak up if they notice texting.

“Tell them to stop,” officials said in the release. “Listen to your passengers; if they catch you texting while driving and tell you to put your phone away. Put it down.”

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