NEW CANAAN, Conn. -- Officers will be cracking down on distracted driving habits Monday as the New Canaan, Norwalk and Wilton police departments join forces to coordinate their enforcement.
The "zero tolerance" crackdown on distracted drivers will especially focus on those who text or talk on their cellphones.
Police said distracted driving is the most significant threat to traffic safety in years. Police will work together to make roads safer. The best way to end distracted driving is to educate motorists about the danger it poses and to strictly enforce Connecticut’s distracted driving laws, police said.
Intensive enforcement will occur in each jurisdiction, police said.
This multiagency traffic safety task force will crack down on a motorist who texts or uses a hand-held cellphone while driving. The enforcement is intended to call attention to a law that took effect Oct. 1 that allows reporting of distracted driving offenses to insurance companies and increases fines for texting and using hand-held phones while driving.
According to police, 3,092 people were killed nationwide in 2010 in crashes involving distracted drivers, while an additional 416,000 people were injured in crashes. Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
Police said text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.
Headset cellphone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use, police said.
The law bans handheld cellular telephones or other electronic devices for all drivers. The use of a cellular telephone (handheld and hands-free) is banned for bus drivers and novice drivers, who are under the age of 18 or with a learner's permit. Texting while driving is banned for all drivers.
The fines are $150 for the first offense, $300 for the second offense and $500 for a third or subsequent offense.