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After Crackdown, Drivers' Use Of Mobile Phones Drops 8% In Connecticut

The "U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY." initiative will continue and run from Aug. 3-16.
The "U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY." initiative will continue and run from Aug. 3-16. Photo Credit: File

WESTPORT, Conn. -- The Westport Police Department, along with the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office, announced the continuation of the “U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY.”

The initiative is 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 before and after April’s crackdown, there was an 8 percent drop in mobile phone use by drivers at observation locations throughout municipalities where police conducted enforcement.

The campaign will run from Aug. 3 to 16 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 in April, resulted in nearly 16,000 citations issued to motorists who ignored Connecticut’s distracted driving laws.

“Considering the seriousness of this problem and the fact that we saw movement in the right direction is a sign we need to continue this program,” Westport Police Capt. Sam Arciola 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 percent of drivers were either texting or talking on a hands free device.

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 2013, 3,154 people were killed and an estimated additional 424,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

Connecticut remains the only state in the nation to receive special distracted driving prevention funds from the federal government  – the same funds that allow for special patrols to identify, stop and cite drivers who choose to ignore distracted driving laws.

More than $4.6 million dollars has been awarded to the state over the last two 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.

For more information about national distracted driving issues, visit www.distraction.gov .

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