Posted on 30 Mar 2011
As part of a federal pilot program, state and Hartford-area police are bolstering patrols this week to look for distracted drivers. The campaign, called "Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other", has police looking for drivers talking and texting on cell phones and doing other distracting activities through Friday.
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and police officials announced this fourth and final enforcement wave of the program at a Capitol news conference this past Monday.
Police in the Hartford and Syracuse, N.Y., areas were chosen to participate in the initiative, which federal officials plan to use to create a national program. State police and officers in Hartford, West Hartford and East Hartford issued about 6,900 citations for talking on cell phones and 348 citations for texting during the first three waves that began last year.
It's illegal in Connecticut to use cell phones without hands-free devices while driving. Fines are $100 for a first offense, $150 for a second violation and $200 for subsequent violations.
About 5,500 people die on U.S. roads in crashes reported to involve distracted driving each year, and another 450,000 are injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Police say the percentage of Hartford-area drivers seen holding phones to their ears dropped from 6.8 to 3.1 after the first two enforcements waves.