Hold The Phone? State Police Target Distracted Drivers

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Connecticut State Police are cracking down on texting while driving with the campaign, “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other.” The project kicked off Thursday and will continue for a week. The goal is simple: save lives and put an end to distracted driving.

Thursday evening Trooper Matthew Herz kept his eyes on the lookout for distracted drivers.

“You know you look down to text and then traffic stops in front of you and you look back up it’s too late.

If traffic stopped you’re going to rear-end the car in front of you,” said Trooper Herz.

He said he’s responded to many accidents that occurred when someone was using a cellphone while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 3,300 people across the country were killed in 2011 due to a distracted driver. In Connecticut it’s illegal to use a hand-held mobile device while driving. Trooper Herz said he has noticed a trend.

“People here in Connecticut got a lot better,” he said. “Less texting, less talking on the cellphone and driving. You see a lot of Bluetooth’s out there, a lot of people hands free.”

That is in large part thanks to campaigns like “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other.” In 2010 when the campaign began it resulted in several thousand distracted driving tickets.

Other weeklong enforcement waves will take place. The next one will begin in October, as well as March and July 2014. They will take place across several areas of the state.

The fine for distracted driving is hefty. It ranges from $125 for a first offense, $250 for a second violation, and $400 for each additional violation.

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