The Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office has 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 by using a hand-held mobile phone while driving.
The first leg of the campaign, which took place in April 2017, found that there was a 17% drop in mobile phone use by drivers at observation locations where police conducted enforcement. The drop in observed use of mobile phones demonstrated the need to reinforce to motorists that using a mobile phone while driving is both dangerous and illegal.
“While it is encouraging that there was a drop in observed hand-held phone use during the last wave, we still have a long way to go,” said CT DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker. “During the last campaign, there were still almost 12,000 citations issued to motorists. We need to continue to be vigilant and continue enforcement.”
The second run of this two-part campaign will go from Aug. 2-16. Law enforcement agencies will mobilize by adding special patrols aimed at catching distracted drivers — especially those on their phones. More than 50 law enforcement agencies, including both state and local police, who were previously involved in the April 2017 campaign, are again participating in this operation.
The goal of ongoing observation studies is for the Department of Transportation to measure the effects of targeted enforcement efforts of Distracted Driving laws. Although this program is still an ongoing effort for 2017, early results from the April mobilization reinforce the trend previously seen during past efforts — that is that observed driver behavior changes as a result of targeted enforcement. Prior to the start of the April campaign, 8.3% of drivers were observed with a phone in their hand in areas police planned to conduct enforcement. This number fell to 6.9% after the first segment of the enforcement effort had concluded. Past observation studies have seen similar pre-post decreases in observed phone use, which is one of the main reasons law enforcement cite to continue participation in these types of campaigns.
In 2015, 3,477 people were killed and an estimated additional 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involved distracted drivers nationally.
Connecticut receives 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. More than $6.8 million has been awarded to the state over the last three 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 distraction.gov.