Manchester Police among agencies cracking down on distracted driving

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MANCHESTER – Police across Connecticut are making sure drivers pay the price if they use their cell phones while driving.

Connecticut State Police and Manchester Police are two of many departments in the state taking part in the campaign, “U Drive. U Text. U Pay,” a crackdown on distracted driving.

Police will be out in full force looking for drivers talking, texting, or even holding their cell phones while driving.

Manchester Police said they have an officer undercover looking for distracted drivers. When a driver is caught on their phone, the officer will radio police on standby, who will then pull that driver over. Police plan to do this in several locations throughout the town during the two week enforcement period.

Just during the morning hours of day one of the campaign, Manchester Police handed out 77 tickets.

“A lot of lap texting we call it, where they got their phone down by their lap so it's harder to see,” Sgt. Stephen Bresciano said. “We see people that are reading their Facebook pages, we had somebody this morning that was actually taking a selfie of herself as she was driving.”

Manchester Police took part in the campaign in April and said they issued more than 1,200 infractions. Statewide about 12,000 distracted driving tickets were handed out.

A first offense will cost you $150 dollars, a second $300 and any subsequent offense will cost $500.

Police see the enforcement efforts as a way to educate the public on the importance of following the law.

“By taking their eyes off the road it gives them less of an opportunity to actually react if a hazard presents itself,” he said.

An estimated 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The enhanced enforcement effort runs through August 16.

Manchester Police said they will also be looking to be sure drivers are wearing their seatbelts.

Sgt. Bresciano said they have been allocated grant funding for enforcement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Connecticut Department of Transportation's Highway Safety Office.