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Put the Brakes on Distracted Driving

“U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” Enforcement Period to Kick off April 1

Today, the Connecticut Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office launched U Drive. U Text. U Pay., a national high-visibility enforcement campaign for National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April. In partnership with State and local law enforcement, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the campaign will step up enforcement efforts to enforce distracted-driving laws from April 1 to April 30, 2022.


In Connecticut in 2020, there were nearly 5,000 crashes attributed to distracted driving.


“It has become all too common to see people driving while looking at their phones,” said Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti. “People know that texting and driving is extremely dangerous and illegal, but they continue to do it anyway. These habits are putting motorists and passengers, pedestrians, bikers, and all road users at risk. Every driver in Connecticut has a responsibility to drive safe.”


Since 2015, Connecticut has been measuring rates of distracted driving. August 2021 saw the highest rate of drivers either texting or talking on a hand-held cell phone since the first round of observations in March 2015. 


“A serious or fatal crash can happen in an instant,” said Commissioner Giulietti. “Distracted driving crashes are preventable. Driving should be a person’s number one priority behind the wheel. Remember, everything else can wait.”


Connecticut law prohibits the use of any hand-held mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers who are 16 or 17 years of age are prohibited from using a cell phone or mobile device at any time, even with a hands-free accessory.


According to NHTSA, between 2012 and 2019, 26,004 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver. While fatalities from motor vehicle crashes decreased slightly from 2018, distraction-related fatalities increased by 10%. NHTSA also reported that the number of deaths linked to driver distraction was 3,142 nationwide, or almost 9% of all fatalities, in 2019. This represents a 10% increase over the year 2018, or 284 more fatalities. The distraction figure was the largest increase in causes of traffic deaths reported for 2019.


Violating Connecticut’s distracted-driving laws can be costly. Drivers who are ticketed are fined $200 for the first offense, $375 for the second offense, and $625 for the third and subsequent offenses.


The Connecticut Department of Transportation urges motorists to put their phone down when they get behind the wheel. If someone needs to text, pull over and park the vehicle in a safe place first.


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EMAIL: CTDOTMedia@ct.govv