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Police Stepping Up Enforcement During Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Posted on behalf of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Apr 04, 2017 in Car Accidents

police cruiser on roadsideIn recognition of April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is partnering with state and local law enforcement to catch distracted drivers and raise awareness about the dangers of this behavior. The crackdown uses the slogan UDrive.UText.UPay. and runs through April 21. 

In Connecticut, police departments from across the state are taking part in the 2017 Distracted Driving High Visibility Enforcement Campaign to help prevent distracted driving car accidents and catch offenders.

Starting today and continuing throughout the month, police departments will post officers in undercover vehicles on busy roadways. Officers will pay special attention in the mornings and afternoons during periods with the heaviest traffic.

Connecticut Laws on Distracted Driving

Under Connecticut General Statute § 14-296aa, it is illegal for anyone to operate a motor vehicle while using a hand-held cellphone for a phone call or to send or receive a text message.

The only exception to the law is if you are communicating with any of the following people or entities about an emergency:

  • Emergency response operator
  • Hospital
  • Physician's office or health clinic
  • Ambulance company
  • Fire department
  • Police department

Connecticut's statute also prohibits other forms of distracted driving. Section (9)(f) states that drivers are prohibited from engaging in any activities that are not related to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of their vehicle on the road.

A violation of this statute is considered a primary offense, which means a police officer can pull you over and issue you a citation if he or she sees you using a cellphone or being distracted by something else while driving. Each violation of the statute comes with a fine:

  • $150 for the first offense
  • $300 for the second offense
  • $500 for the third and any subsequent violations

Types of Distracted Driving

The State of Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles' Driver's Manual defines a distraction as anything that takes a driver's attention off the task of driving.

Common examples of distractions include:

  • Talking or sending text messages with a cellphone
  • Using the dashboard control panel
  • Personal grooming, such as combing hair, putting on makeup and shaving
  • Talking to passengers
  • Eating or drinking
  • Smoking
  • Grabbing items that fell on the floor
  • Using navigation systems
  • Adjusting the air conditioning, music or radio

These things can engage your eyes, ears, hands and mind on things besides driving, increasing the risk of a dangerous, possibly life-ending crash.

Texting and driving is often considered one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving because it takes drivers' eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. If you are traveling at 55 mph, your car will travel the length of a football field in that time. This greatly increases the risk of an accident.

Statistics on Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a major contributor to deaths and personal injuries from traffic accidents. In 2015, more than 3,400 people were killed and more than 390,000 suffered injuries in accidents caused by a distracted driver.

According to NHTSA statistics, 10 percent of fatal accidents and 15 percent of injury accidents involved some form of distracted driving.

Unfortunately, surveys show that many drivers are comfortable sending texts and succumbing to other distractions while behind the wheel.

A National Safety Council survey from February of this year revealed that 47 percent of respondents are comfortable sending a text while driving, either with their hands or with voice controls.

Young millennials between the ages of 19 and 24 are the worst offenders when it comes to distracted driving, according to a survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The survey found that 88 percent of drivers in this age group admitted to texting and driving in the past month. 

How do I Prevent Distracted Driving?

The best way to prevent distracted driving is to stay focused on the road at all times. You should also be proactive to help reduce or eliminate potential distractions:

  • Eat before you start driving or leave earlier so you have time to stop somewhere to eat
  • Avoid intense, emotional conversations with passengers, as they may divert your attention from driving
  • Adjust vehicle controls before you start driving, including the stereo, climate controls, GPS, mirrors, seat position and anything else that needs adjusting
  • Commit to not using any electronic devices while you are driving
  • If you absolutely have to make a call, have a passenger do it or pull to the side of the road
  • Give yourself enough time to take care of all personal grooming before you start driving
  • Put pets in a pet carrier or portable kennel
  • If you have children in the car, give them toys, games or books to keep them occupied

You should also say something if you see friends or loved ones engaging in any form of distracted driving. A reminder could be the push these people need to stop this dangerous behavior and may end up saving their lives.  

Have you been injured or lost a loved one in a crash caused by a distracted driver?

Contact the auto accident attorneys at D'Amico & Pettinicchi for a free, no obligation legal consultation. We may be able to recover fair compensation for all of the damages you have suffered.

Contact us today by calling (866) 848-7077 or completing a Free Case Evaluation form.