WESTPORT, Conn. – “U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY.” The latest crackdown on texting while driving will launch on Wednesday, Aug. 3, the Westport Police Department announced.
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 device, Westport police said.
“Unfortunately, the fear of a getting a ticket is the main incentive for people to change their behavior,” said Westport Police Lt. David Farrell said. “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."
According to surveys conducted after last year’s crackdown, there was an 8 percent drop in mobile phone use by drivers at observation locations where police conducted enforcement. The drop in observed use is encouraging and demonstrates the need to reinforce to motorists that mobile phone use while driving is both dangerous and illegal.
The campaign will run from Aug. 3 through Aug. 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 during April, resulted in over 12,000 citations issued to motorists who chose to ignore Connecticut’s distracted driving laws.
“We’re going to keep doing this until people get the message.” Farrell said.
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 Farrell. “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.”
Under Connecticut’s cellphone 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 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 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.
For more information about national distracted driving issues, visit www/distraction.gov .