U Drive, U Text, U Pay program continues

The Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office, today announced the continuation of the “U Drive, U Text, U Pay” initiative, 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%drop in mobile phone use by drivers at observation locations throughout municipalities where police conducted enforcement. The drop in observed use is encouraging to law enforcement agencies, 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 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. That is four times more citations in one month than any other month over the most recent three-year period (2012-14) when a specialized enforcement campaign did not occur. More than 50 law enforcement agencies including both state and local police are again participating in the operation.

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 each day throughout the state. According to the findings, it is estimated that 9.6% 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. According to a 2014 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the risk of a crash or near-crash among novice drivers increased with the performance of many secondary tasks, including texting and dialing cell phones.

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. More than $4.6 million has been awarded to the state over the last two years to fund campaigns such as this one.

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

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