Driving distracted? Get a ticket
STAMFORD — Halfway through their month-long campaign trying to keep a lid on distracted driving in Stamford, police officers had no trouble finding phone-wielding drivers earlier this week on Washington Boulevard.
Traffic Unit Sgt. Jeffrey Booth said tallies have not yet been compiled for the distracted-driving checkpoints around the city over the past two weeks, but he said more than 300 tickets have been written for some sort of distracted-driving behavior.
Those tickets could be from texting while driving, making hand-held phone calls or motorists using their phones for Facebook or Twitter or other social media purposes, Booth said.
On Tuesday, a police spotter was at the intersection of Broad Street and Washington Boulevard using a radio to call out drivers using their phones to other officers waiting on foot a little further south on Washington Boulevard to pull them over. The checkpoints are happening all over the city on a daily basis.
Stamford police are partnering with the state Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from April 2 to April 30 for the national U Drive, U Text, U Pay, high-visibility enforcement effort.
“It seems that every day, you can look out of your car’s window and see a driver using their cellphone,” said Stamford Police Assistant Chief Thomas Wuennemann earlier this month when the campaign kicked off. “It is painfully obvious to law enforcement when you are driving distracted. If you text and drive, you will pay.”
Violating Connecticut’s distracted-driving laws can be costly. Drivers who are ticketed are fined $150 for the first offense, $300 for the second offense, and $500 for the third and subsequent offenses.
Over the past decade, distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes on our nation’s roads. According to NHTSA, between 2012-17, nearly 20,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver. In fact, there were 3,166 people killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2017.
While this represents a 9 percent decrease in distracted-driving fatalities from 2016 to 2017, there is clearly more work to be done, Booth said when the campaign began.