ConnDOT: EIGHT PERCENT DROP IN MOBILE PHONE USE BY DRIVERS AFTER STATEWIDE CRACKDOWN
2015

CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
NEWS RELEASE
 
2800 BERLIN TURNPIKE P.O. BOX 317546
NEWINGTON CONNECTICUT, 06131-7546
 
FOR RELEASE: July 29, 2015
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
TELEPHONE: (860) 594-3062
FAX: (860) 594-3065
WEB SITE: www.ct.gov/dot 

EIGHT PERCENT DROP IN MOBILE PHONE USE BY DRIVERS AFTER STATEWIDE CRACKDOWN

Next Wave of “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” to Launch August 3 – August 16

 

      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 eight percent drop in mobile phone use by drivers at observation locations throughout municipalities where police conducted enforcement.  The drop in observed use is encouraging to safety advocates and shows that focused, High Visibility Enforcement can impact motorists who choose to engage in this behavior.

      “We’re seeing measurable progress,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Jim Redeker.  “We understand that the proliferation of mobile devices means this will be a tough habit for people to break – which is why seeing a drop in use as a response to tough enforcement of Connecticut’s laws will be taken as a sign that we’re on the right path.  Enforcement campaigns like these can impact behavior.”

      The campaign will run from August 3rd through the 16th 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 during April 2015, resulted in nearly 16,000 citations issued to motorists who chose to ignore Connecticut’s distracted driving laws.  That is FOUR TIMES more citations in one month than any other month over the most recent three-year period (2012-2014) when a specialized enforcement campaign did not occur.  Over 50 law enforcement agencies including both state and local police are again participating in this operation – aimed at keeping Connecticut’s roadways safe.

      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 happen each day throughout the state of Connecticut.  According to the findings, in total, it is estimated that 9.6% of drivers were either texting or talking on a hands free device.

      “When you think about those numbers, how many people engage in this activity and you pair that with the decrease we saw in April, it shows why we need to continue these types of programs and campaigns,” Redeker said.  “We’re not going to see drivers stop using their mobile devices overnight.  It takes time to change behavior to make our roads safer but if we can continue to remind people that this activity is dangerous and illegal we can have a real impact on traffic safety.”

      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 special 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.  Over $4.6 million dollars has been awarded to the state over the last two years specifically – to fund campaigns like this one.  Connecticut qualifies for this federal funding source through a mix of tough laws – and, a proven track record in strong enforcement of distracted driving laws.

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