Attorney General Joins “Stop the Texts” Day National Campaign, DMV Commissioner Highlights Awareness Efforts
For Immediate Release
TUESDAY, MAY 1, 2012
HARTFORD – Attorney General George Jepsen today joined the nationwide “Stop the Texts Day” campaign in a continuing effort to educate young drivers about the dangers of texting while driving. May is National Youth Traffic Safety Month.
The social media campaign is a joint effort by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the state Attorneys General and the Ad Council, to extend the message of the “Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks” campaign and website launched last year at this time. New public service announcements (PSAs) feature NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne.
“Driving is one of the most dangerous hazards facing young adults. Texting while driving is a distraction young drivers can live without,” Attorney General Jepsen said.
According to the NHTSA, distracted driving is the number one killer of American teens. Nationwide in 2010, more than 3,000 people were killed and an additional 416,000 were injured due to distracted driving, which includes texting while driving.
In Connecticut, the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) notes that motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for 15 to 19 year olds. Talking on the phone or with passengers, texting, selecting radio stations and other distractions increase the risk of a serious crash, the department said.
"Texting while driving invites crashes that can change promising lives of teens forever,” said Commissioner Melody Currey. “At DMV for several years, we have campaigned to raise awareness among our youngest drivers about texting-while-driving dangers. We even focused on it in our annual teen safe-driving video contest for teens talking to teens about safety.”
"But it is also the responsibility of parents to monitor teens' behaviors,” the Commissioner said. “Even the slightest hint that their young teen driver may be texting behind the wheel means the parent should take away the car keys. It's time for a discussion about how very dangerous that simple act can be."
Attorney General Jepsen said “while the threat to personal and public safety is the paramount concern, drivers of any age should be aware that texting while driving in Connecticut can also result in hefty fines and license suspension.”
Connecticut law prohibits use of handheld cell phones and texting while driving. Fines range from $125 for a first offense to $400 for a third or subsequent offense. In addition, the state DMV will suspend the driver’s license or learner’s permit of a 16- or 17-year-old for 30 days to six months for any conviction of violating a teen driving restriction or using a cell phone or text messaging device while driving. Those teens will have to pay a $175 license restoration fee as well as court fines.
A national survey released released by the Ad Council today noted that 60 percent of young adult drivers (16-24) said they had texted while driving. The young adult drivers also said that friends are the most influential source to encourage them to curb their texting and driving habits, (44 percent), followed by their parents (33 percent). Notably, 88 percent of texting drivers said a law against the behavior would encourage them to completely stop, or be less likely to text while driving; and 96 percent of young adult drivers said large fines, a suspended license and/or jail time, higher insurance rates and other financial and legal consequences would encourage them not to text while driving.
The online survey, commissioned by the Ad Council, was conducted in partnership with ORC International’s Online CARAVAN® Youth Omnibus. Research was conducted nationwide from April 3 to 6, 2012. The sample consisted of 862 teens and young adults, all of whom had a valid driver’s license, junior license or learner’s permit.
Friends and parents of young adult drivers, and other safe driving advocates, are invited to share status updates from the Stop the Texts campaign’s Facebook and Twitter pages. A complete toolkit for Stop the Texts Day is also available to provide additional ways the public can participate.
Assistant Attorney General Phillip Rosario, head of the consumer protection department, assisted the Attorney General in this effort.