The Wilton Police Department 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 CT’s mobile phone laws. They’re taking part in a high visibility statewide enforcement campaign, “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”

The joint effort will span the entire month of April, running through 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, CT 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.

Connecticut’s cell phone law has been in effect for over a decade now, so officials believe that the law is well known at this point. 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 potentially devastating consequences on people’s lives.

DOT 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 the law regarding cell phone use by drivers is well established, people can be seen every day choosing to ignore the Connecticut law, putting themselves and others on the road at risk. The goal of the campaign is that with a continual and strategic focus on cell phone enforcement, needless crashes can be prevented from happening, and people can be prevented from getting injured or killed.

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 any subsequent offense $500.

The effort will ramp up again August 3-16.

Visit the federal government’s website for more information about national distracted driving issues.