ConnDOT: 2016 Distracted Driving Enforcment Campaign Begins
2016

CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
NEWS RELEASE
 
2800 BERLIN TURNPIKE P.O. BOX 317546
NEWINGTON CONNECTICUT, 06131-7546
 
FOR RELEASE: April 7, 2016
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
TELEPHONE: (860) 594-3062
FAX: (860) 594-3065
WEB SITE: www.ct.gov/dot 

The Connecticut Highway Safety Office Kicks Off National Distracted Driving Awareness Month with Increased Enforcement

Connecticut Enforces “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” Statewide Campaign Crackdown

 

NEWINGTON, CT – The Connecticut Highway Safety Office is kicking off its annual Distracted Driving Campaign as part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The effort will span through the month of April, kicking off on the 4th and running through the 30th. The effort will ramp up again in August from the 3rd to the 16th.

      Law enforcement will be looking for drivers who choose to ignore Connecticut’s mobile phone laws. Last year, Connecticut drivers started to get the message as a result of this crackdown. Law enforcement wrote over 22,000 citations as part of last year’s effort to get drivers to put down their phones and pay attention to the road.

      “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.”

      DOT observations conducted before and after last year’s crackdown showed a significant drop in hand held mobile phone use at selected enforcement locations. The observations 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 at the selected enforcement locations.

      “When you think about those numbers, how many people engage in this activity and you pair that with the decrease we saw last year, 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,” Redeker continued.

      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 past few 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.