Police are cracking down on distracted drivers

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Monroe police officers are joining in the statewide effort to crack down on drivers who distract themselves by texting and talking on their cellphones without their bluetooth. The effort is to increase awareness and safety by reminding drivers to keep their eyes on the road.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office announced the second wave of the “U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY.” campaign, a period of heightened enforcement that runs from today through Aug. 15.

“Too many drivers are ignoring their responsibilities behind the wheel,” Joseph Giulietti, commissioner of the DOT, said in a news release. “Starting Aug. 1, the
community will see an increased and highly visible law enforcement presence on our roadways as officers will be stopping and ticketing anyone who is texting and driving.”

During the first wave of the campaign in April 2019, more than 10,000 citations were issued to motorists who chose to ignore Connecticut’s distracted driving laws, according to Giulietti.

Fines in Connecticut for violations begin at $150 for a first offense, increase to $300 for a second offense and are $500 for subsequent violations.

Now in its fifth year, more than 50 state and local law enforcement agencies participate in “U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY.”

Over the past decade, distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes on our nation’s roads.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, between 2012-2017, nearly 20,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver. In fact, 3,166 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2017.

While this represents a 9 percent decrease in distracted driving fatalities from 2016 to 2017, there is clearly more work to be done, according to Giulietti.

Since 2015, nearly 33,000 crashes in Connecticut have involved a distraction – resulting in 45 fatal crashes.

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