MONROE, CT — Drivers who talk or text on their cellphones can easily be distracted from paying full attention to the road and the traffic around them. Police say distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes over the past decade.
In 2019, 6,600 crashes in Connecticut were attributed to distracted driving, and, between 2012 and 2019, 26,004 people in the U.S. died in crashes involving a distracted driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Though fatalities decreased slightly, those involving distracted driving rose by 10 percent.
Today, April 1, the Monroe Police Department will join state and local law enforcement agencies in the country in stepping up enforcement of distracted driving laws as part of “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.,” a national high visibility enforcement campaign.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office started the month-long campaign in the state, which runs from April 1 to April 30. This coincides with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which is in April.
“Every trip on Connecticut’s roadways—no matter how long or short a trip—should be a safe one,” said Joseph Giulietti, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation. “We want drivers to focus on the most important task: hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.”
Connecticut law prohibits the use of any hand-held mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers who are 16 or 17 years of age are prohibited from using a cell phone or mobile device at any time, even with a hands-free accessory.
Violating Connecticut’s distracted-driving laws can be costly. Drivers who are ticketed are fined $150 for the first offense, $300 for the second offense and $500 for the third and subsequent offenses.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation and the Monroe Police Department urges drivers to put their phones down when they get behind the wheel and, if they need to text, to pull over and park their vehicle in a safe place first.
For information, visit www.distraction.gov.