The Wilton Police will be running a “Subtract the Distraction” distracted driving patrol through the first two weeks of August. The effort is being run in conjunction with the “U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY.” campaign from the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office.

Through this initiative, officers will be cracking down on motorists who text, talk, or distract themselves with a hand-held mobile phone while driving.

“Texting and driving is a public safety crisis. Our mission is to save lives and protect the public. Enforcing texting and driving laws is a critical priority for our department,” says Lt. Rob Kluk of the Wilton Police. “Starting Aug. 1, the community will see an increased and highly visible law enforcement presence on our roadways with a focus on safety. Our Officers will be stopping and ticketing anyone who is endangering the public due to texting and driving. If you text and drive, you will pay.”

During the first wave of this campaign, in April 2018, more than 10,000 citations were issued statewide to motorists who ignored Connecticut’s distracted driving laws. Wilton Police call it a good start, but say there is still more work to be done.

Throughout the campaign, which runs Aug. 1-15, Wilton Police will mobilize by adding special patrols aimed at catching distracted drivers, especially those on their phones.

The patrols that will be running during this campaign are funded by Connecticut’s special distracted driving prevention funds. According to a press release from Wilton Police, “Connecticut qualifies for this federal funding source through a mix of tough laws and a proven track record in strong enforcement of distracted driving laws. Over $9.1 million has been awarded to the state over the last three years specifically to fund campaigns like this one.”

Wilton received $19,700 in grant money for distracted driving in 2018, which is split between the April effort and this current wave in August.

Over 50 law enforcement agencies, including both state and local police, who were previously involved in the April 2018 campaign, will again be participating.

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. In 2016, there were 3,450 distracted driving related deaths and in 2015 an estimated 391,000 were injured in distracted driving motor vehicle crashes nationally.