WESTPORT, Conn. --The Westport 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 Connecticut’s mobile phone laws, said police.
The campaign began Monday and will run until Saturday, 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, according to police.
Last year, Connecticut 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 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 real impacts on people’s lives," said Lt David Farrell.
The Department of Transportation observed a significant drop in handheld mobile phone use at selected enforcement locations after last year's crackdown, according to police.
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.
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 subsequent offense $500. The effort will ramp up again from August 3-16.
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