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Distracted Driving Enforcement Aims to Reduce Accidents


Posted On behalf of Michael D'Amico of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Jun 17, 2015 in Car Accidents

Open a Connecticut newspaper on any given day and you'll likely see an ominous reminder: "Police to Focus on Distracted Driving Laws" or "Local, State Police Conduct Crackdown on Distracted Driving." Statewide efforts are underway to raise driver awareness about the connection between distracted driving and Connecticut car crashes. Sometimes that awareness comes with a steep price tag: a first-time offender found using an electronic device while driving will be fined $100, and fines escalate to $150 and $200 for second and third offenses.

Connecticut is one of many states that have amended their traffic laws in the past decade to make distracted driving illegal. The basic details:

  • Handheld cell phone use is forbidden for all Connecticut drivers
  • Bus drivers and novice drivers (under 18 or only possessing a learner's permit) cannot use cell phones while driving, whether handheld or hands-free
  • Connecticut law imposes a ban on texting for all drivers

Criminalization of distracted driving is backed by solid statistics. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) attributed more than half a million auto accident injuries to distracted driving in 2008, and almost 6,000 fatalities. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that a distracted driver is at a fourfold greater risk of a car crash, and cognitive studies have shown that merely talking on the phone creates significant dangers by diverting a driver's attention from traffic, road signs and terrain. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, introduced a Web site called "Faces of Distracted Driving" (distraction.gov/faces) which explores the cost of distracted driving on families and communities.

Discouraging the use of electronic devices is one important safety strategy, but distracted driving can involve any activity that takes your hands off the wheel or eyes off the road, or interrupts your concentration while driving. "Driving while distracted is roughly equivalent to driving drunk," Dr. Amy N. Ship, an internist at Harvard Medical School, wrote in 2010 in a commentary in The New England Journal of Medicine. "Any activity that distracts a driver visually or cognitively increases the risk of an accident. None of them is safe."

Therefore, Connecticut law also provides that drivers must not engage in activities that interfere with the safe operation of a car, truck or motorcycle.

Phone in One Hand? Ticket in the Other

The increased risk of motor vehicle accidents posed by texting, phone use and other distractions is not only a hazard to the distracted driver and his or her passengers. Other motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists are severely injured or killed by negligent drivers in Connecticut all too often.

When a car accident victim or wrongful death survivor faces the daunting challenges created by medical expenses, lost income and other damages, a dedicated personal injury lawyer, can provide timely counsel and dedicated advocacy. Contact our Connecticut car accident attorneys today.