Police in Norwalk have a message for drivers: if you use electronics while you’re behind the wheel of a car, you’re going to pay.
As part of April’s designation as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the Norwalk Police Department announced that it will be increasing patrols as part of the national "U Text. U Drive. U Pay." campaign.
According to police, officers in marked and unmarked vehicles will aggressively ticket drivers using handheld devices - like smartphones - during the operation.
Distracted driving has reached the top of the list of growing dangers on local roadways, surpassing aggressive or impaired drivers, according to a study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety this week.
The study states that 88 percent of drivers contend that distracted driving is on the rise, a 30 percent increase in just five years. The release of the report comes as several local law enforcement agencies announce their intentions to ramp up distracted driving enforcement details in April, which has been designated as “Distracted Driving Awareness Month.”
In the study, 49 percent of those surveyed reported that they’ve talked on cellphones while driving, and 35 percent admitted that they’ve sent a text or email, “even though most believe it’s wrong to do while driving.” The survey also found that “nine out of 10 drivers nationwide reflect a ‘do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do’ attitude” in regards to cellphone use while driving.
It is estimated that nearly 700,000 people use a cellphone while driving in America each day. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, a crash is four times as likely if a driver is distracted, whether it’s on a hands-free device or not.
"Drivers are continuously ignoring their responsibilities behind the wheel, and distracted driving is a growing and deadly threat on our roadways," police officials stated. "Connecticut police are teaming up with the Connecticut Department of Transportation during the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA's) National Distracted Driving Awareness month to make sure all motorists keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel."
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