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Coming Your Way: Another Crackdown on Hand-Held Cell Phone Use

Watch out hand-held cell phone drivers. Another police crackdown is on the way.

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Westport Police announced today the next wave of the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” campaign against hand-held cell phone use, including texting, while driving will take place Aug. 3 to Aug. 16.

The new campaign follows a similar one in April that police said resulted in an 8 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 law enforcement agencies, and demonstrates the need to reinforce to motorists that mobile phone use while driving is both dangerous and illegal,” said Capt. Sam Arciola.

The last campaign resulted in almost 16,000 citations issued to motorists who chose to ignore Connecticut’s distracted driving laws, he said.

This was a 400 percent increase in 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, Arciola said. 

More than 50 law enforcement agencies including both state and local police are again participating in this operation aimed at keeping Connecticut’s roadways safe.

“We’re making gains”, said Arciola “Considering the seriousness of this problem and the fact that we saw movement in the right direction is a sign we need to continue to this program.

“Unfortunately, the fear of a getting a ticket is the only incentive for people to change their behavior.”

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 involv¬ing distracted drivers, he said.

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.

Morr than $4.6 million has been awarded to the state over the last two years specifically to fund campaigns like this one, Arciola said.

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.

“We’re going to keep doing this until people get the message,” Arciola said. 

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

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