In 2015, 3477 people were killed and an estimated additional 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers nationally.
The Wilton Police Department, along with the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office, has announced the continuation of the “U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY.” initiative, an effort to crack down on motorists who choose to text, talk or otherwise distract themselves by using a hand held mobile phone while driving.
The first leg of the campaign, which took place in April 2017, found that there was a 17% drop in mobile phone use by drivers at observation locations where police conducted enforcement. The drop in observed use of mobile phones demonstrated the need to reinforce to motorists that using a mobile phone while driving is both dangerous and illegal.
Officials say that although the drop is encouraging, there is still more work to be done. During the April 2017 campaign, there were almost 12,000 citations issued to motorists who ignored Connecticut’s Distracted Driving laws.
The second run of this two-part campaign is now underway, from Aug. 2-16. Wilton Police Department has scheduled special patrols aimed at catching distracted drivers, especially those on their phones. Over 50 law enforcement agencies, including both state and local police, who were previously involved in the April 2017 campaign, are again participating in this operation.
Under Connecticut’s cell phone and texting law, violations involve heavy fines, ranging from $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second violation, and $500 for each subsequent violation.
Connecticut receives special distracted driving prevention funds–the same funds that allow for special patrols to identify, stop, and cite drivers who choose to ignore distracted driving laws. Over $6.8 million has been awarded to the state over the last three years specifically to fund campaigns like this one. Connecticut qualifies for this federal funding source through a mix of tough laws and a proven track record of strong enforcement of distracted driving laws.