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Report by Paula Antolini
August 5, 2016 11:01PM EDT
‘U Drive. U Text. U Pay.’ Conn DOT Reminds Residents to SUBTRACT THE DISTRACTION
Next Wave of “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” Launch August 3 – August 16
(Bethel, CT )– The Bethel Police Department, along with the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office, announced the continuation of the “U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY.” initiative – an effort to crackdown on motorists who choose to text, talk or otherwise distract themselves from the task of driving by using a hand-held mobile phone.
According to surveys conducted last year’s crackdown, there was an eight percent drop in mobile phone use by drivers at observation locations throughout municipalities where police conducted enforcement. The drop in observed use is encouraging to law enforcement agencies, and demonstrates the need to reinforce to motorists that mobile phone use while driving is both dangerous and illegal.
The campaign will run from August 3rd through the 16th and marks the second time this year law enforcement agencies will mobilize by adding special patrols – aimed at catching distracted drivers – especially those on their phones.
The last operation, which took place during April 2016, resulted in over 12,000 citations issued to motorists who chose to ignore Connecticut’s distracted driving laws. Nearly 50 law enforcement agencies including both state and local police are again participating in this operation – aimed at keeping Connecticut’s roadways safe.
“We’re making gains”, said Sgt. Durkin. “Considering the seriousness of this problem and the fact that we saw movement in the right direction is a sign we need to continue to this program” Sgt. Durkin said.
The Department of Transportation had announced in April that the results of recent research found an estimated 11.1 million of occurrences of distracted driving happen each day throughout the state of Connecticut. According to the findings, in total, it is estimated that 9.6% of drivers were either texting or talking on a hands free device.
“Unfortunately, the fear of a getting a ticket is the only incentive for people to change their behavior”, added [Sgt. Durkin]. “Everyone thinks they can do it, that a crash won’t happen to them. Sadly, we see it every day and it can and does happen”.
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 2014, 3,179 people were killed and an estimated additional 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
Connecticut remains the only state in the nation to receive 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 dollars 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 in strong enforcement of distracted driving laws.
“We’re going to keep doing this until people get the message” Sgt. Durkin said.
For more information about national distracted driving issues, visit www/distraction.gov.