BRISTOL - Police in Bristol and Southington are set to begin the second leg of a statewide initiative to cut down on distracted driving.
The effort, “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.,” will kick off Wednesday and run through Aug. 16. State police and other municipalities throughout Connecticut will also participate.
“It’s an effort by police departments to create a safer driving environment,” said Bristol Police Lt. Richard Guerrera.
Guerrera added that, during the crackdown, officers usually use spotters on main roads. That officer, after seeing someone using their cell phone or another mobile device, will then radio ahead to a team of officers who initiate the traffic stop and issue a ticket.
Guerrera said the initiative is funded by grant money, which allows departments to put extra officers out on the streets looking for distracted driving.
The statewide crackdown was started four years ago and is organized by the Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The campaign usually runs in two stages, one in April and one in August.
According to Southington police, the campaign in April resulted in a 17 percent decrease in mobile phone usage by motorists at locations where police conducted enforcement. Statewide, there were almost 12,000 citations issued during the first leg of the initiative.
According to Guerrera, violators of the state’s cell phone laws 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 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015. This is a 9 percent increase in fatalities compared to the previous year.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.