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4/1/2019 - Law Enforcement Urging Distracted Drivers to Remember: U Drive. U Text. U Pay.

Mayor Joseph P. Ganim
Bridgeport, CT

 Chief of Police
Armando J. Perez 

For Immediate Release 
April 1, 2019

For More Information:
Terron Jones (203) 576-7024

Press Release

Law Enforcement Urging Distracted Drivers to Remember: U Drive. U Text. U Pay.

Bridgeport, CT – Over the past decade, distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes on our nation’s roads. Bridgeport Police Chief Armando J. Perez is encouraging drivers to put down the phone and remember: U Drive. U Text. U Pay. In support of April’s National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the Bridgeport Police Department’s Traffic Division will be partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) from April 2 to April 30, 2019, for the national U Drive. U Text. U Pay. high-visibility enforcement effort. The goal of the campaign is to step up enforcement efforts to discourage distracted driving and enforce distracted-driving laws.

According to NHTSA, between 2012-2017, 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.

Over the years, millennials have become the biggest texting-while-driving offenders, using their cell phones to talk, text, and scroll through social media while behind the wheel. According to NHTSA, young drivers 16 to 24 years old have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers since 2007. In fact, in 2017, 8 percent of people killed in teen (15-19) driving crashes died when those teen drivers were distracted at the times of the crashes. And female drivers are most at-risk for ac involved in a fatal crash involving a distracted driver.

“It seems that every day, you can look out of your car’s window and see a driver using their cell phone,” said Bridgeport Police Traffic Sergeant Darryl Wilson. “People know texting and driving is dangerous and illegal, but they do it anyway, and it puts others at risk. Beginning April 2, you will see increased law enforcement efforts, as officers will be stopping and ticketing anyone who is caught texting and driving. If you text and drive, you will pay.”

Violating Connecticut’s distracted-driving laws can be costly. Connecticut General Statutes 14-296aa – Use of hand-held mobile telephones and mobile electronic devices by motor vehicle operators and school bus drivers prohibited or restricted. First time offenders are fined starting at $150.00 per violation.

An analysis by the AAA Foundation of 2009-2012 data found that while more than 80 percent of drivers believed it was completely unacceptable for a motorist to text behind the wheel, more than a third of those same drivers admitted to reading text messages while operating a passenger motor vehicle themselves.

“We all have cell phones, and we’re on them all the time,” said Bridgeport Traffic Sergeant Gabe Meszaros. “But when you drive you have a responsibility to drive safely and responsibly. When you get behind the wheel, put your phone away as your attention needs to be on the road. If your attention is anywhere else, you’re driving distracted and you’re driving dangerously”.

Drive Safe Every Trip

The Bridgeport Police Department and NHTSA urge you to put your phone down when you get behind the wheel. If you need to text, then pull over and do not drive while doing so. If you’re driving, follow these steps for a safe driving experience:

  • If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location. Once you are safely off the road and parked, it is safe to text.
  • Designate your passenger as your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
  • Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving. Cell phone use can be habit-forming. Struggling to not text and drive? Put the cell phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of the vehicle until you arrive at your destination.

Texting while driving is dangerous and illegal. Break the cycle. Remember: U Drive. U Text. U Pay.
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