The Southington Police Department will be joining forces across the country to intensify enforcement of state and local texting and distracted-driving laws, and to raise awareness about the dangers—and legal implications—of distracted driving.
From April 11 to April 15, Southington police will recognize national distracted driving awareness month with the annual U Drive. U Text. U Pay campaign in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA).
According to NHTSA, nearly 20,000 people died in crashes between 2012 and 2017 that involved a distracted driver. They report 3,166 fatalities in 2017.
Over the years, millennials have become some of the biggest texting-while-driving offenders, also using their cell phones to talk and to scroll through social media while behind the wheel. According to NHTSA, young drivers, aged 16-24 have been observed using handheld electronic devices at higher rates than older drivers since 2007.
In 2017, 8 percent of people killed in teen driving accidents were a result of a teen driver distracted by texting. Female drivers are most at-risk for being involved in a fatal crash involving a distracted driver.
Violating Connecticut’s distracted-driving laws can be costly. The first offense carries a $150 fine, which increases to $300 for a second offense and $500 for each subsequent offense. All fines are doubled in a construction zone.
An analysis by the AAA Foundation of 2009-2012 data 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 themselves.
Drive Safe Every Trip
In a press release, the Southington Police Department and NHTSA urge drivers to put down their phones when they get behind a wheel.
“If you need to text, then pull over and do not drive,” officials said in the release.
If you’re driving, follow these steps for a phone-free experience:
- If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location. Once you are safely off the road and parked, it is safe to text.
- Designate your passenger as your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
- Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.
- Cell phone use can be habit-forming. Struggling to not text and drive? Put the cell phone out of reach in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of the vehicle until you arrive at your destination.
“Texting while driving is dangerous and illegal,” officials said in the release. “Break the cycle. Remember: U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”
For more information, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov.