Police cracking down on distracted driving in the month of April

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Distracted Driving Fines Increase Next Month

WEST HARTFORD — For the month of April, police will be out in force looking for distracted drivers as part of the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”  campaign, a high-visibility effort to enforce distracted-driving laws.

Police said too many drivers are ignoring their responsibilities behind the wheel, and distracted driving is a growing and deadly threat on state roadways.

Local police departments are teaming up with the Connecticut Department of Transportation during the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Distracted Driving Awareness month to make sure all motorists keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.

Violating Connecticut’s distracted driving laws can be costly. Drivers who are ticketed for this violation can be fined $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense and $500 for third and subsequent offenses.

According to the NHTSA, 3,477 people were killed and an estimated 391,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015. This is a 9-percent increase in fatalities as compared to the previous year.

An analysis by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety of 2009-2012 data found that while more than 80 percent of drivers believed it was completely unacceptable for a motorist to text behind the wheel, more than a third of those same drivers admitted to reading text messages while operating a passenger motor vehicle themselves.

Distracted Driving Awareness Month is also an opportunity for parents to have a conversation with their teens about potential dangers of phone use while driving whether they’re making a phone call, texting or using an app.