WILTON, Conn. -- Drivers who enjoy chatting on their phones might soon find themselves with a ticket as the the Wilton Police Department partners with the Connecticut Highway Safety Office as part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month to crack down on drivers who choose to ignore the state's cellphone laws.
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 when law enforcement wrote more than 22,000 citations as part of the effort to get drivers to put down their phones and pay attention to the road.
Connecticut’s cell phone law has been in effect for over a decade. The state has been ahead of the curve in terms of passing tough laws and enforcing them, and while talking on the phone while driving is a difficult habit to break, the impacts of doing so are very real and can result in crashes that have potentially devastating consequences on people’s lives, police said.
Department of Transportation studies conducted before and after last year’s crackdown showed a significant drop in hand-held mobile phone use at selected enforcement locations. The studies 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.
While the law regarding cell phone use by drivers is well established, drivers still choose to ignore the law, and put themselves and others on the road at risk. The goal is that with a continual and strategic focus on cell phone enforcement, law enforcement can prevent needless crashes from happening, and people from getting injured or killed.
Fines for using a mobile phone while behind the wheel are $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second, and a $500 for additional offenses. The joint effort runs Tuesday through April 30 statewide.
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